By Robert Haugh
Last month, disgraced former Councilman Dominic Caserta returned to City Hall. A source familiar with the meeting says he’s pushing for flavored tobacco.
Caserta was accompanied by Tony Alexander, the former political director of UFCW Local 5 who does consulting now. UFCW Local 5 represents grocery clerks and cannabis employees.
Caserta and Alexander met with Councilman Suds Jain twice, on April 13 and 19. They met with Vice Mayor Raj Chahal on April 22.
Neither Caserta nor Alexander are registered as lobbyists on the City’s lobbyist database.
Last year, a California law banned the sale of flavored tobacco products. But it was placed on hold when a referendum by the tobacco industry qualified for the November 2022 ballot.
According to a source, Alexander is helping the campaign.
Caserta has “sold himself to Tony as someone who can line up Santa Clara endorsements.”
“It’s a sad day for California when the money of Big Tobacco is able to delay the inevitable while continuing to addict and kill more Californians,” former state Sen. Jerry Hill told the Los Angeles Times. Hill authored the law before he left office.
Also, according to the paper:
“The tobacco industry has raised more than $21 million so far for the campaign to overturn the ban, but health groups said Friday they are ready to fight back.
‘This is a battle between the people of California and Big Tobacco over the health, lives and future of our kids,’ said Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a health advocacy group that includes leaders of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Assn. ‘Big Tobacco is going to use every deceptive trick in their playbook just so they can continue to market and profit from hooking young kids on their candy-flavored products.’”