Santa Cruz Police get $256K grant to curb illegal tobacco sales to minors

The Santa Cruz Police Department has received a grant of $256,568 from the California Department of Justice to help enforce the state and local laws against the sale and marketing of tobacco products to minors. The grant will be used to fund various activities, such as:

The grant will help the police department to educate and inform tobacco retailers on the state and local tobacco laws, such as the statewide retail flavor ban and the minimum age of 21 for purchasing tobacco products. The police will also conduct inspections and investigations to ensure compliance with the licensing and labeling requirements.

Prosecuting violators of tobacco laws

The grant will also enable the police department to prosecute and penalize retailers who sell or market tobacco products to youth under the age of 21, including over the Internet. The police will use undercover operations, decoy buyers, and online surveillance to identify and catch the violators. The penalties for violating the tobacco laws can range from fines, suspension, or revocation of licenses, to criminal charges.

Protecting public health from tobacco harms

The grant will also support the police department’s efforts to protect the public health from the harms of tobacco use, especially among the youth. According to the police, tobacco is the number one preventable killer in the United States and kills around 40,000 Californians a year. The police will also work with other agencies and organizations to raise awareness and provide resources for tobacco prevention and cessation.

Responding to emerging tobacco products

The grant will also help the police department to respond to the emerging tobacco products, such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), commonly known as e-cigarettes. These products are often marketed to children and adolescents by the tobacco and related industries, using thousands of appealing flavors and misleading claims. The police will monitor and regulate these products, as well as educate the public about their risks and harms.

The grant is part of the Tobacco Grant Program, which is funded by the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 (Proposition 56), which increased the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and the tax on other tobacco products. The program aims to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors, promote tobacco cessation, and prevent tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

The Santa Cruz Police Department is one of the 70 local law enforcement agencies that received the grant from the California Department of Justice this year. The grant period is from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025.

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