Antioch Council to reverse ban on sale of certain tobacco products, businesses that sell them

Examples of flavored tobacco. Herald file photos

Ogorchock switches position, joins Barbanica, Torres-Walker

Thorpe, Wilson continue support of ban

Mayor shares personal information about his name and father

By Allen D. Payton

At the beginning of the regular Antioch City Council meeting Tuesday night, March 28, 2023, Mayor Lamar Thorpe spoke about a personal matter, saying his father has cancer and began hospice, today and that he might be missing meetings in the near future. He will begin the legal process tomorrow to add his father’s last name of Hernandez to Thorpe. The mayor shared that last October when he missed a council meeting, he was in L.A. visiting his father when he was first diagnosed.

Thorpe also shared he was baptized as Martín Hernandez, but his parents could not adopt him as his birth mother would not relinquish her parental rights. That’s why all his siblings have the last name Hernandez and he’s the only one with the last name Thorpe.

Council Majority Supports Reversing Tobacco Business Bans

After hearing from Antioch business owners who sell tobacco products complaining about the ordinance previously passed by the council on a 3-2 vote banning the sale of certain products and preventing them from selling or passing their business on to a family member, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock changed course and agreed to a reversal. She was joined by District2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker who cast the two votes against the ordinance. (See related article)

Ogorchock wanted to reverse the ban on the sale of little cigars, or cigarillos, and requiring them to be sold in packs of at least twenty, which includes products sold under the Swisher Sweet brand name that are commonly sold in two packs; the requirement that large cigars must be sold in packs of at least six, including conventional cigars weighing more than three pounds per thousand; as well as the ban on the sale of any package of cigarettes, little cigars, or cigars may sold for less than $10, including applicable fees.

Barbanica spoke next saying, “this is ridiculous. We need to start over. If we want to ban new tobacco businesses from coming into town, fine. But this goes too far. We need to follow state law and make it a level playing field.”

“I agree with everything Councilman Barbanica just said,” Torres-Walker said.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson opposed the changes and continued to support the bans.

On the matter of selling or transferring their business to a family member Barbanica said, “My position is they should be able to sell their business if they want to.”

“If they want to sell it I shouldn’t be the one telling them who they can sell to,” Ogorchock chimed in.

“Selling it and passing it down to a family member,” Torres-Walker agreed when polled by Thorpe.

Both Thorpe and Wilson opposed the change. The mayor said he would work with staff to return with the changes by the council majority for a future vote, to applause from the business owners and their supporters in the audience.

“In the meantime, the ban remains. Please comply,” he said to them.

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