The State Department of Public Health shall do all of the following:
(a) 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.
(b) 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. The notice shall also state that the law requires that all persons selling tobacco products check the identification of a purchaser of tobacco products who reasonably appears to be under 21 years of age. The warning signs shall include a toll-free telephone number to the department for persons to report unlawful sales of tobacco products to any person under 21 years of age.
(c) Provide that primary responsibility for enforcement of this division shall be with the department. In carrying out its enforcement responsibilities, the department shall conduct random, onsite sting inspections at retail sites and shall enlist the assistance of persons that are under 21 years of age in conducting these enforcement activities. The department may conduct onsite sting inspections in response to public complaints or at retail sites where violations have previously occurred, and investigate illegal sales of tobacco products to any person under 21 years of age by telephone, mail, or the Internet. A person under 21 years of age who participates in these enforcement activities is immune from prosecution under any provision of law prohibiting the purchase of these products by a person under 21 years of age.
(d) In accordance with Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, the department shall adopt and publish guidelines for the use of persons under 21 years of age in inspections conducted pursuant to subdivision (c) that shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) An enforcing agency may use persons under 21 years of age in random inspections to determine if sales of cigarettes or other tobacco products are being made to persons under 21 years of age.
(2) A photograph or video recording of the person under 21 years of age shall be taken prior to each inspection or shift of inspections and retained by the enforcing agency for purposes of verifying appearances.
(3) An enforcing agency may use video recording equipment when conducting the inspections to record and document illegal sales or attempted sales.
(4) The person under 21 years of age, if questioned about his or her age, need not state his or her actual age but shall present a true and correct identification if verbally asked to present it. Any failure on the part of the person under 21 years of age to provide true and correct identification, if verbally asked for it, shall be a defense to an action pursuant to this section.
(5) The person under 21 years of age shall be under the supervision of a regularly employed peace officer during the inspection.
(6) All persons under 21 years of age used in this manner by an enforcing agency shall display the appearance of a person under 21 years of age. It shall be a defense to an action under this division that the person’s appearance was not that which could be generally expected of a person under 21 years of age, under the actual circumstances presented to the seller of the cigarettes or other tobacco products at the time of the alleged offense.
(7) Following the completion of the sale, the peace officer accompanying the person under 21 years of age shall reenter the retail establishment and shall inform the seller of the random inspection. Following an attempted sale, the enforcing agency shall notify the retail establishment of the inspection.
(8) Failure to comply with the procedures set forth in this subdivision shall be a defense to an action brought pursuant to this section.
(e) Be responsible for ensuring and reporting the state’s compliance with Section 1926 of Title XIX of the federal Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 300x-26) and any implementing regulations adopted in relation thereto by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. A copy of this report shall be made available to the Governor and the Legislature.
(f) Provide that any civil penalties imposed pursuant to Section 22958 shall be enforced against the owner or owners of the retail business and not the employees of the business.
(Amended by Stats. 2016, 2nd Ex. Sess., Ch. 8, Sec. 3. (SB 7 2x) Effective June 9, 2016.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018