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Reducing Access to Tobacco

Widespread availability of tobacco products reinforces a social norm that promotes tobacco use by youth and young adults. Communities are beginning to adopt policies that reduce the sale and availability of tobacco to youth as well as decrease the overall availability of tobacco products to adults. Efforts to reduce the sale and availability of tobacco products to youth have historically focused on improving compliance with state laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to persons under age eighteen.

Tobacco retailer licensing is an effective way to ensure compliance with local business standards, to reduce youth access to tobacco, and to limit the negative public health effects associated with tobacco use. Strong licensing ordinances require retailers to purchase a license, the fees fund strong enforcement programs and include financial deterrents through fines and penalties that include the suspension and revocation of the license. With this type of policy, unincorporated Contra Costa has seen the rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors drop from 37% to 7%.

For Residents

For Policy Makers

Tobacco Prevention Project staff are available to provide Technical Assistance to cities considering strengthening tobacco prevention policies. For more information, call 888-877-4202 or send an e-mail to

For Tobacco Retailers