Your Family

Feb 24, 2010 12:30 AM by Carina Corral

Tobacco sales to minors on the rise in parts of Santa Barbara County

It is getting easier for minors to buy cigarettes in some parts of Santa Barbara County, according new data released by the County Public Health Department.

Each year, the Sheriff's Department teams up with public health to conduct undercover buys, in which a minor decoy is sent in to a tobacco retailer to try to buy cigarettes.

Last year, in the cities of Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria, sales to minors decreased compared to 2008, while they increased in Buellton and Solvang.

42 percent (5 of 12) of tobacco retailers surveyed in Buellton sold to minors in 2009 compared to 17 percent in 2008.

50 percent (2 of 4) surveyed in Solvang sold cigarettes to the minor decoy, compared to no illegal sales in 2008.

Not one retailer in Guadalupe sold to a minor during the 2009 operation, compared to 14 percent in 2008.

Further, 21 percent (12 of 57) of tobacco retailers in the unincorporated areas sold to minors in 2009, versus 10 percent (7 of 68) in 2008.

Illegal sales in Lompoc increased by 3 percent and by 4 percent in Goleta.

In light of these illegal sales rates, 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal stated, "I have
been working on an initiative that I will be bringing to the Board shortly, which will set
limits on tobacco retailing near schools throughout the county."

Failure to comply with tobacco-related laws concerning sales to minors results in a gradual series of penalties with the potential for license suspension and a loss of ability to sell tobacco products.
Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program administrator Dawn M. Dunn explained that "although tobacco licensing laws currently exist in the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta and in the unincorporated areas of the County, the existing laws are almost a decade old. An update of these laws would help because strong tobacco retail licensing laws are proven to have a positive and sustainable effect in reducing illegal sales to minors."

Anyone with questions regarding tobacco sales to minors is encouraged to contact the Santa Barbara County Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program at 805-681-5407 or via
email at


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