Attorney General Becerra Announces Over $30 Million in State Grants to Combat Illegal Tobacco Use Among Minors
Seventy-six local government agencies received grants to prevent or reduce illegal sales of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced $30.5 million in state grant funding for local government agencies to tackle the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors as part of the Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program. The grants were awarded to 76 local entities throughout the state.
“Tobacco is a serious threat to public health, especially to California’s youth,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These grants will support local communities in enforcing the law and educating kids about the harms of tobacco products. My office is dedicated to ensuring the state has the resources necessary to curb the dangers of tobacco and protect the public’s well-being. Preventing or reducing illegal sales of tobacco to minors will pave the way to a healthier California—we’re committed to tackling this public health crisis head on.”
The Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program is funded by Proposition 56 (Prop. 56), the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016. Beginning April 2017, Prop. 56 raised the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with an equivalent increase on all other tobacco products. Prop. 56 also allocates millions of dollars annually to the Department of Justice for distribution to local law enforcement agencies for the support and hiring of peace officers for various activities. These activities include investigations and compliance checks to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors.
The Attorney General's Office has received reports from several agencies on the progress of their grant-funded activities. This includes public education programs for their communities, decoy operations, and investigations into adults purchasing tobacco for minors. Between April and June of 2019, nearly 1,800 decoy operations were conducted across the state. Further, in the same time frame over 1,000 tobacco education events, including vaping awareness, were held for K-12 students. Just last week, the Los Angeles City Attorney announced a media campaign that targets minors and highlights the negative impact of vaping. The Tobacco Grant recipients continue to undertake critical and necessary steps to reduce illegal sales of tobacco to youth.
The grant recipients will use state dollars to fund operations and projects, including hiring school resource officers, improving law enforcement operations, and providing education for minors and their families. Recipients will also use funds to educate businesses on current tobacco laws and provide outreach to tobacco vendors. The recipients include cities, counties, school districts, sheriffs’ and police departments. Click here to see the 2019-2020 grant recipients.