ABSTRACT

In addition to prohibitions and requirements related to tobacco sales to minors, enforcement of the sales laws is necessary for reducing the sales rate to minors (Gemson et al. , 1998 ; Rigotti et al. , 1997) . There are five issues related to enforcement of the minimum age of sales laws. First, the designation of a local agency that is primarily responsible for the enforcement of the law banning sales to minors can eliminate bu­ reaucratic complications regarding enforcement responsibilities . Sec­ ond, the requirement of annual, random, unannounced inspections of over-the-counter and vending machine tobacco sales can ensure that re­ tailers will undergo a minimum number of inspections. Typically, these inspections are conducted with the assistance of underage youth who are paid to attempt to purchase tobacco under the supervision of the en­ forcement agency. Third, allowing for the owners or licensees to be held accountable for the actions of their employees can provide addi­ tional incentive for people in management positions to train their em­ ployees in how to avoid illegal sales and to implement procedures that reduce the likelihood of illegal sales. Fourth, the establishment of civil penalties (e.g. , fines, license suspensions, etc . ) rather than criminal pen­ alties for those who violate the sales laws can increase the rate of en­ forcement since civil penalties generally require fewer prosecutorial resources and are usually met with less opposition from the community. The final provision involves the use of a graduated system of fines and license suspensions or revocations for retailers that sell tobacco prod­ ucts to minors and allows for greater accountability for repeat off end­ ers.