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Few Retailers in El Cajon Sell Cigarettes to Minors

Audio

Aired 8/26/09

The City of El Cajon has seen a major reduction in the percentage of retailers that sell cigarettes to minors. City officials credit a law that requires retailers to purchase a license to sell tobacco products.

— The City of El Cajon has seen a major reduction in the percentage of retailers that sell cigarettes to minors. City officials credit a law that requires retailers to purchase a license to sell tobacco products.

The license costs $698 a year. The money pays for enforcement, including sting operations in which teens try to buy cigarettes.

Surveys show before the law took effect in 2005, 40 percent of local retailers sold tobacco to minors. In 2008, only 5 percent did so.

El Cajon city councilman Gary Kendrick says the law has some teeth in it.

"Retailers know that if they get caught, it's gonna cost them a thousand dollars, or 30 day suspension of their license," Kendrick says. "And they've responded, exactly the way we've wanted them to. They've stopped selling tobacco to children."

More than sixty communities in California have similar laws. Nearly all of them have seen big decreases in cigarette sales to minors.

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