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California awards millions to local governments to eliminate illegal tobacco sales to minors

illegal sale of tobacco to minors

By Olivia Wynkoop. Bay City News

To crack down on the illegal sale of tobacco to minors, cities, counties, school districts and law enforcement agencies across the state will soon receive millions of dollars in state funding, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday. .

The California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program, funded by a state tobacco tax, is distributing $18.6 million to 41 local government programs to report, investigate, and penalize tobacco retailers who sell products to underage youth 21 years old.

Since 2017, the program has delivered $170 million in grants to governments through a competitive application process.

The grant program hopes to not only curb retailers who ignore federal tobacco laws, but also to ultimately mitigate the next generation of tobacco addicts.

"Every day, thousands of young Californians will smoke their first cigarette," Bonta said. “Tobacco manufacturers and retailers bear much of the blame, as they often directly encourage the growing underage market for their products. The California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program provides critical funding to prevent these illegal sales and reduce tobacco use among youth in our communities."

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy organization made up of public health officials, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, responsible for more deaths than alcohol, car accidents, murder , suicides, illegal drugs and AIDS combined. In California, it is estimated that more than 400,000 children die prematurely from smoking.

The grant program will help grantees educate local tobacco retailers about federal laws, ensure their licenses are in compliance, and prosecute those who sell tobacco products to youth, including online.

In the Bay Area, grantees include Sonoma and Contra Costa County Departments of Health Services, Fremont High School in Santa Clara County, Alameda Sheriff's Office and Piedmont Police Departments, Pleasanton, St. Paul and Calistoga.

You may be interested in: More than 2.5 million youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2022

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