Sacramento Tobacco Retail License Program curbs sales to minors more than 50 percent

Closeup of a cigarette

Underage smoking has been a serious issue in our region. Back in 2003, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco Education Program found that 27 percent of tobacco retailers in Sacramento unlawfully sold tobacco products to minors.

In response, Community Development implemented the Tobacco Retail License Ordinance in 2004 , requiring tobacco retailers to apply for annual licenses and display them in their shops

Data has shown that the efficacy of the program has been overwhelmingly positive.

Our code enforcement staff conducts quarterly inspections, underage stings and maintains a data base of violations. Over the last nine years, code officers together with the Police Department have conducted 35 underage stings at 350 stores.

In 2012, the City took further action and implemented an ordinance requiring tobacco retail locations to maintain a 1,000 feet distance from schools. By distancing tobacco retailers from schools, we hope to minimize minors’ exposure and access to tobacco products.

The results of these efforts are staggering. Since the inception of the Tobacco Retail License Ordinance, there has been a 50 percent drop in the unlawful sale of tobacco products to minors.

The Sacramento Bee has also reported June 2013 survey results indicating that local cities without a tobacco licensing program have higher rates of unlawful sale to minors. See the full story here.

“I’ve been part of the program since its inception, and we aren’t in the business of making money,” said Bob Rose. “The end goal is to protect children who try to purchase tobacco products illegally. This program has been extremely beneficial and has also been a poster-child for other similar programs throughout the state.”

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