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California’s ‘Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act’

The STAKE Act is under the pre-existing law, ‘The California Cigarette and Tobacco Licensing Act of 2003’

By Chris Micheli, July 17, 2022 8:01 am

California has a number of formal acts in statute. Business and Professions Code Division 8.5 provides the “Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act,” which is contained in Sections 22950 to 22964. Division 8.5 was added in 1994 by Chapter 1009. Section 22950 names it the STAKE Act.

Section 22950.5 defines the following terms: “department”; “enforcing agency”; “smoking”; and, “tobacco product.” Section 22951 provides legislative findings and declarations that reducing and eliminating the illegal purchase and consumption of tobacco products by any person under 21 years of age is critical to ensuring the long-term health of our state’s citizens.

Section 22952 requires the State Department of Public Health to do all of the following:

  • Establish and develop a program to reduce the availability of tobacco products to persons under 21 years of age through the enforcement activities authorized by this division.
  • Establish requirements that retailers of tobacco products post conspicuously, at each point of purchase, a notice stating that selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties.
  • Provide that primary responsibility for enforcement of this division is to be with the department.
  • The department must adopt and publish guidelines for the use of persons under 21 years of age in inspections conducted and include, but not be limited to, specified information.
  • Be responsible for ensuring and reporting the state’s compliance with the federal Public Health Service Act.
  • Provide that any civil penalties imposed are to be enforced against the owner or owners of the retail business and not the employees of the business.

Section 22953 provides that all moneys collected as civil penalties by the department and other state agencies pursuant to this division are to be deposited in the State Treasury to the credit of the Sale of Tobacco to Minors Control Account that is stablished.

Section 22954 provides that any cigarette or tobacco products distributor or wholesaler, and any cigarette vending machine operator granted a seller’s permit, is required to annually provide to the State Department of Health Services the names and addresses of those persons to whom they provide tobacco products, including, but not limited to, dealers, for the purpose of identifying retailers of tobacco to ensure compliance with this division.

Section 22955 provides that agents of the state department, while conducting enforcement activities pursuant to this division, are peace officers and are subject to all of the powers and immunities granted to Food and Drug Section inspectors.

Section 22956 provides that all persons engaging in the retail sale of tobacco products are required to check the identification of tobacco purchasers, to establish the age of the purchaser, if the purchaser reasonably appears to be under 21 years of age.

Section 22957 provides that, in addition to the primary enforcement responsibility assumed by the department, another enforcing agency may conduct inspections and assess penalties for violations of this division if the enforcing agency complies with this division and with all applicable laws and guidelines developed pursuant to this division.

Section 22958 provides that an enforcing agency may assess civil penalties against any person, firm, or corporation that sells, gives, or in any way furnishes to another person who is under 21 years of age, any tobacco, cigarette, cigarette papers, any other instrument or paraphernalia that is designed for the smoking or ingestion of tobacco, tobacco products, or any controlled substance, according to a specified schedule.

Section 22959 requires the sum of $2 million to be transferred annually from the portion of the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant moneys allocated to the State Department of Health Care Services for administrative purposes related to substance abuse programs, to the Sale of Tobacco to Minors Control Account.

Section 22960 prohibits a cigarette or tobacco product from being sold, offered for sale, or distributed from a vending machine or appliance, or any other coin or token operated mechanical device designed or used for vending purposes, including, but not limited to, machines or devices that use remote control locking mechanisms.

Section 22961 prohibits any person, firm, corporation, partnership, or other organization from advertising or causing to be advertised any tobacco products on any outdoor billboard located within 1,000 feet of any public or private elementary school, junior high school, or high school, or public playground.

Section 22962 provides definitions for the following terms: “self-service display”; “tobacco paraphernalia”; “tobacco product”; and, “tobacco store.” This section does not preempt or otherwise prohibit the adoption of a local standard that imposes greater restrictions on the access to tobacco products than the restrictions imposed by this section.

Section 22963 provides that the sale, distribution, or nonsale distribution of tobacco products directly or indirectly to any person under 21 years of age through the United States Postal Service or through any other public or private postal or package delivery service at locations, including, but not limited to, public mailboxes and mailbox stores, is prohibited.

Section 22964 provides that this division sets forth minimum state restrictions with respect to the legal age to purchase or possess tobacco products and does not preempt or otherwise prohibit the adoption of a local standard that imposes a more restrictive legal age to purchase or possess tobacco products. A local standard that imposes a more restrictive legal age to purchase or possess tobacco products controls in the event of any inconsistency between this division and a local standard.

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