Santa Clara County / CALIFORNIA
Starting Jan. 1, 2016, the age to purchase tobacco and electronic smoking products in unincorporated Santa Clara County increased from 18 to 21. The ordinance affects 17 retailers located in unincorporated county areas.
“Our county continues to be a national leader in protecting the health of our residents, particularly our children and youth, from the harms of tobacco,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who initiated the County’s smoking, tobacco and e-cigarette product ordinances. “The new tobacco purchase age of 21 clearly puts the health of our youth before any special interests.”
In June, the County of Santa Clara became the first California county to pass an ordinance raising the purchase age for tobacco and electronic smoking products. In July, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department began notifying tobacco retailers of the new requirements that prohibits the selling and distributing of tobacco and electronic smoking products to anyone under age 21, and more recently through in-store education with store owners and/or employees in partnership with the Department of Environmental Health.
Ordinance requirements beginning Jan. 1:
Retailers are required to post a notice of minimum age for purchase of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at each point of purchase. The notice will state that selling tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to anyone under 21 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties.
Positive identification will be required for purchases. No retailer shall sell or transfer a tobacco product or electronic smoking device to another person who appears to be under 30 years of age without first examining the customer’s identification to confirm that the customer is at least the minimum age required to purchase and possess the tobacco product.
“Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing about $170 billion in health care expenses each year,” said Sara Cody, M.D., County Health Officer and Director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. “Tobacco and e-cigarette use among teens and young adults remains a critical public health concern.”
It is estimated that 90 percent of tobacco users start before the age of 21; roughly 80 percent first try tobacco before age 18, and 75 percent of teen smokers continue into their adult years. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine predicts that raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 may, over time, reduce the smoking rate by about 12 percent and smoking-related deaths by 10 percent.
Enforcement of New Age Restriction
If a store violates the ordinance and sells tobacco or electronic smoking products to anyone under the age of 21, they could be subject to fines and penalties established when the County’s Tobacco Retail Permit ordinance went into effect in 2011.
•Amount of fine – Each such violation shall be subject to an administrative fine as follows:
•A fine not to exceed $100.00 for a first violation within one year;
•A fine not to exceed $200.00 for a second violation within one year; and
•A fine not to exceed $500.00 for each additional violation within one year.
•Time period for permit suspension
•For a first violation within any 24-month period, the retailer permit shall be suspended for up to 30 calendar days.
•For a second violation within any 24-month period, the retailer permit shall be suspended for up to 90 calendar days.
•For each additional violation within any 24-month period, the retailer permit shall be suspended for up to one year.
For more information, visit: www.sccphd.org/tobacco. The public may call the County Tobacco Violations Reporting Line 408-885-4466