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New Law Cracks Down On Retailers Who Sell Tobacco To Minors

Aired 9/18/12 on KPBS News.

The state will soon get tougher on retailers who sell tobacco to kids.

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Above: cigarettes

— California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that increases penalties on retailers who sell tobacco to minors. The law comes at a time when sales to California kids have actually hit a new low.

State officials say 5.6 percent of California retailers sold tobacco to minors last year. That's the lowest rate since the state began tracking illegal sales 16 years ago.

Debra Kelley, with the American Lung Association, said some types of stores tend to break the law more than others.

"Non-traditional stores like deli and meat markets have the highest illegal sales rate, well over 11 percent," Kelley explained. "Discount gift stores have higher rates."

The new law increases civil penalties on violators, and temporarily suspends a retailers license to sell tobacco after the third infraction.

The California Department of Public health tracked 2,248 tobacco sales to minors between 2008 and 2010.

State officials say nearly 14 percent of California teenagers smoke.

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