California’s “Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act”


California has a number of formal acts in law. Division 8.5 of the Business and Professions Code provides the “Children’s Access to Tobacco Law Enforcement Act”, found in sections 22950 through 22964. Division 8.5 was added in 1994 by the chapter 1009. Section 22950 calls it the STAKE law.

Section 22950.5 defines the following terms: “department”; “executing agency”; “smoking”; and “tobacco product”. Section 22951 provides legislative findings and statements that reducing and eliminating the illegal purchase and consumption of tobacco products by anyone under the age of 21 is essential to ensuring the long-term health of citizens of our state.

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 the age of 21 through enforcement activities authorized by this division.
  • Establish requirements for tobacco product retailers to post a prominent notice at every point of purchase that the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 is illegal and subject to penalties.
  • Provide that the primary responsibility for the application of this division rests with the department.
  • The ministry shall adopt and publish guidelines for the use of persons under the age of 21 in inspections carried out and include, but not be limited to, specified information.
  • Be responsible for ensuring and reporting state compliance with federal public health services law.
  • Provide that any civil penalty imposed must be applied against the owner or owners of the retail business and not against the employees of the business.

Section 22953 provides that all monies collected as civil penalties by the Department and other public agencies under this division shall be deposited in the treasury to the credit of the Tobacco Sales to Minors Control Account which is established.

Section 22954 provides that any distributor or wholesaler of cigarettes or tobacco products and any operator of cigarette vending machines with a vendor’s license are required to annually provide the State Department of Health Services with the names and addresses of persons to whom they supply tobacco products, including, but not limited to, merchants, for the purpose of identifying tobacco retailers to ensure compliance with this Section.

Section 22955 provides that officers of the Department of State, while conducting enforcement activities under this division, are peace officers and are subject to all powers and immunities granted to inspectors of the Department of food and drugs.

Section 22956 provides that all persons engaged in the retail sale of tobacco products are required to verify the identity of purchasers of tobacco, in order to establish the age of the purchaser, if the purchaser reasonably appears be under 21 years old.

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

Section 22958 provides that a law enforcement agency may impose civil penalties on any person, firm, or corporation that sells, gives, or otherwise supplies to another person under the age of 21 years, tobacco, cigarettes, cigarette paper, any other instrument or paraphernalia designed for smoking or ingesting tobacco, tobacco products or any controlled substance, on a specified schedule.

Section 22959 requires that $2 million be transferred annually from the portion of the Federal Block Grants for Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment allocated to the State Department of Health Services for program-related administrative purposes fight against drug addiction, to the sale of tobacco to Minors’ control account.

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

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

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

Section 22963 provides that the sale, distribution, or distribution without sale of tobacco products directly or indirectly to anyone under the age of 21 through the United States Postal Service or any other postal service or Public or private parcel delivery to locations, including but not limited to street letter boxes and mailbox stores, is prohibited.

Section 22964 provides that this division sets forth minimum state restrictions regarding the legal age to purchase or possess tobacco products and does not preclude or prohibit the adoption of any local standard that imposes a more restrictive legal age for purchasing or possessing tobacco products. A local standard that imposes a more restrictive legal age for purchasing or possessing tobacco products checks for inconsistencies between this division and a local standard.


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