PALMDALE — Working to build upon the first-year success of a program targeting illegal sales and marketing of tobacco products to minors, Palmdale has received a second state grant this month, officials said.
The city was awarded $361,243 from the California Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program, one of 76 local entities statewide to receive funding.
“This will provide us with the necessary funding to continue our very successful tobacco enforcement and education program,” Palmdale’s Community Compliance Supervisor Sara Gallagher said.
Last year, the city received a $435,000 grant, which helped kick-start efforts to increase enforcement and educational outreach.
Since it began last year, the city’s efforts led to a noticed decline in tobacco-related violations. The funding provided for a partnership with the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station to conduct inspections of tobacco retailers to ensure they were not selling to minors or making single cigarette sales.
To help retailers better understand and keep in compliance, the city developed a Tobacco Retailers Guide and established a No Smoking Weekly Park Patrol to keep city parks smoke-free.
Education was also part of the grant funding, with an extensive anti-tobacco advertising campaign featuring billboards and online messaging to discourage tobacco use, especially among youth.
“Tobacco is a serious threat to public health, especially to California’s youth,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
The Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program is funded by Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016. Beginning April 2017, Prop. 56 raised the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent increase on all other tobacco products.
It also allocates millions of dollars annually, to the California 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.