State donates millions to local governments to tackle illicit tobacco sales to minors

Cities, counties, school districts and law enforcement agencies across the state will soon receive millions of dollars in state funding to address the illicit sale of tobacco to minors, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday.

The California Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program — funded by a state tobacco tax — distributes $18.6 million to 41 local government programs to inform, investigate, and punish tobacco retailers who sell products to under-21 youth.

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

The subsidy program hopes not only to curb retailers who flout federal tobacco laws, but ultimately prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to tobacco.

“Thousands of young Californians smoke their first cigarette every day,” said Bonta. Tobacco manufacturers and retailers bear much of the blame, often directly encouraging the growing underage market for their products. The California Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program provides crucial funds to prevent these illicit sales and reduce youth tobacco use. in our communities.”

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group made up of public health officials, tobacco use is the number one cause of death in the United States and is responsible for more deaths than alcohol, car accidents, homicide, suicides, illegal drugs and AIDS combined. And in California, smoking is estimated to kill more than 400,000 children prematurely.

The grant program will support recipients in instructing local tobacco retailers about federal laws, ensuring their licenses are in compliance, and prosecuting those who sell tobacco products to youth, including on the Internet.

In the Bay Area, recipients include the health departments of Sonoma and Contra Costa counties, Fremont High School in Santa Clara County, the Alameda Sheriff’s Office, and the police departments of Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Pablo, and Calistoga.

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