PALMDALE – The city of Palmdale has been awarded $435,000 in state grant funding from the California Department of Justice to combat the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.
In a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the grants, which total $37.5 million and were distributed to 71 local entities throughout the state.
“Tobacco remains a very serious public health concern,”Becerra said. “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.”
Funding for the grants came as a result of Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, which 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. Prop. 56 specifically allocates $30 million of revenue to be distributed annually to local 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. Grant recipients included cities, counties, school districts and sheriff/police departments. (The complete list is available at here.)
Palmdale’s $435,000 was the fourth largest award in Los Angeles County. It will enable the city’s neighborhood services department to implement programs to identify and target problematic tobacco retailers; conduct tobacco-related enforcement and shoulder tap operations; provide no smoking signage; and conduct outreach and education for all Palmdale schools.
“We’re very grateful to receive these grant funds,” stated City Manager James Purtee. “For the public’s benefit, we’re proposing a tobacco outreach and enforcement program to ensure that all licensed tobacco retailers are operating within the law. This program will provide an innovative approach focused on enforcement, investigation, compliance and education to achieve the goals established under the grant.”
“We’re also extending our appreciation to Assembly Member Tom Lackey and his Chief of Staff Tim Townsend who were instrumental in alerting city staff of this grant opportunity, and were very supportive of our efforts to seek these revenues to improve the quality of life for residents in Palmdale,” Purtee added.
The code enforcement division of the neighborhood services department will implement Palmdale’s outreach and enforcement program under this grant and will work in close partnership with LASD, local school districts and other city staff.
“This city-wide program will include the staffing of both law enforcement officers and city staff,” stated Sara Shreves, Palmdale’s Community Compliance Supervisor. “Palmdale Code Enforcement will be responsible for implementing and coordinating the program with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to conduct four undercover operations per year. Code Enforcement will visit and inspect all 80 Palmdale retailers for the purpose of education and enforcement, and providing outreach and education to all Palmdale schools over the course of 25 months, the length of the grant.”
For more information, call 661-267-5126.
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]