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WeHo receives grant funds to fight tobacco sales to minors

LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced $37.5 million in state grant funding to combat the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.

The grants to 71 statewide entities — including the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the cities of Pasadena, Palmdale, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Montebello, and the Duarte Public Safety Department, among others — will fund operations, retailer training programs, the installation of signage, youth outreach, tobacco retail license inspections, training for sworn personnel and other activities.

“Tobacco remains a very serious public health concern,” Becerra said June 12. “These grants will provide additional tools to law enforcement to help educate kids about the dangers of smoking. The grants will also help local communities enforce laws against selling tobacco products to minors. These grants are an important step toward reducing illegal sales and building a healthier California.”

The city of West Hollywood will use its funding to develop a tobacco training program, inspect licensed tobacco retailers, raise public awareness regarding tobacco use and coordinate operations to identify illegal tobacco retailers.

“The next generation — our local students — led the effort by participating in actions to expose retailers who were selling to underage youth,” City Councilwoman Lindsey P. Horvath said. “I’m thrilled that the attorney general has followed their lead by providing new funding for the City of West Hollywood and for communities across California to hold tobacco retailers accountable for selling cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.”

Proposition 56 — the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 — was approved by voters in November 2016. Effective April 2017, it raised the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products.

The proposition specifically allocates $30 million of revenue to be distributed annually by the California Department of Justice to local law enforcement agencies for the support and hiring of peace officers for various activities, including investigations intended to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors.

This year’s Proposition 56 grant recipients will use the state dollars to fund different anti-smoking campaigns and projects including new training and educational materials for officers and tobacco sellers to reduce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors, and law enforcement operations targeted at retailers selling to minors.

 

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