Attorney General Bonta Announces $18.6 Million in State Grants to Curb Illegal Tobacco Sales to Minors

Monday, November 21, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced $18.6 million in state grant funding to 41 local government agencies to tackle the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors as part of the Department of Justice’s annual Tobacco Grant Program. The Tobacco Grant Program is funded by Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act. Since 2017, the Tobacco Grant Program has distributed approximately $170 million in grant funding through a competitive application process.

“Every day, thousands of young Californians will smoke their first cigarette,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Tobacco manufacturers and retailers bear much of the blame, often directly encouraging the growing underage market for their products. The California Department of Justice’s Tobacco Grant Program provides critical funds to prevent these illegal sales and reduce youth tobacco use in our communities.”

Tobacco use is the number one preventable killer in the United States, resulting in more deaths than the number of people who die from alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murder, and suicides — combined. In California alone, over 400,000 children currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

Federal law prohibits retailers from selling tobacco products to youth under the age of 21. However, many retailers ignore this law by selling their products to minors, marketing flavored tobacco to children, and even engaging in illegal online sales without required age verification. The Tobacco Grant Program aims to reduce childhood addiction to tobacco products by supporting local partners who: 

  • Inform and instruct tobacco retailers on state and local tobacco laws;
  • Investigate and inspect retailer licensing compliance; and
  • Prosecute and penalize retailers who sell or market tobacco products to youth under the age of 21, including over the internet.

This year's recipients include cities, counties, school districts, sheriffs, and police departments. Click here to see the 2022-2023 grant recipients.  

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