The city of Palmdale has been awarded $435,000 in state grant funding from the California Department of Justice to combat the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.

In a press conference held this week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the grants, $37.5 million in total, were distributed to 71 local entities throughout the state.

“Tobacco remains a very serious public health concern,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These grants will provide additional tools to law enforcement to help educate kids about the dangers of smoking. The grants will also help local communities enforce laws against selling tobacco products to minors. These grants are an important step toward reducing illegal sales and building a healthier California.”

The funding for the grants came as a result of Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, which was approved by voters in November 2016. Effective April 2017, it raised the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products.

Prop. 56 specifically allocates $30 million of revenue to be distributed annually by to local agencies for the support and hiring of peace officers for various activities, including investigations intended to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors. The recipients included among different cities, counties, school districts and sheriff/police departments. (The complete list is available at https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/tobacco/tobacco-grants-17-18.pdf.)

Palmdale’s $435,000, which was the fourth largest award in Los Angeles County, will enable the city’s neighborhood services department to implement Palmdale’s program to include: identifying and targeting problematic tobacco retailers, conducting tobacco-related enforcement and shoulder tap operations, providing no smoking signage, and conducting outreach and education for all Palmdale schools.

“We’re very grateful to receive these grant funds,” said City Manager James Purtee. “For the public’s benefit, we’re proposing a tobacco outreach and enforcement program to ensure that all licensed tobacco retailers are operating within the law.  This program will provide an innovative approach focused on enforcement, investigation, compliance and education to achieve the goals established under the grant,” Purtee said.

“We’re also extending our appreciation to Assemblymember Tom Lackey and his Chief of Staff Tim Townsend who were instrumental in alerting city staff of this grant opportunity, and were very supportive of our efforts to seek these revenues to improve the quality of life for residents in Palmdale,” Purtee added.

The code enforcement division of the neighborhood services department will implement the city’s outreach and enforcement program under this grant and will work in close partnership with LASD, local school districts and other city staff.

Code Enforcement will visit and inspect all 80 Palmdale retailers for the purpose of education and enforcement, and provide outreach and education to all Palmdale schools over the course of 25 months, the length of the grant.

For more information, call (661) 267-5126.