PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, October 10, 2011

Local Tobacco Sales to Youth Nearly Triple State Rate

Recent undercover operations revealed disturbingly high rates of sales of cigarettes to local minors. Of 275 stores surveyed in Santa Barbara County, 17% sold cigarettes to an underage decoy, nearly three times the statewide average of 6%.

Wide variation in sales rates was seen across cities within the county. Lompoc had the highest rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors at 31%. Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Guadalupe, and unincorporated parts of the county also exceeded the state rate of sales to minors. Solvang and Buellton had no sales of tobacco to minors, and Santa Maria sales rates were comparable to the state average.

Tobacco sales to minors varied significantly from last year’s rates in several cities. Sales to minors dropped from 40% in Buellton and 25% in Solvang last year to zero this year. Sales rates in Goleta jumped from 6% last year to 19% this year. Similarly, sales in Lompoc doubled from 14% last year to 31% this year.

Late last year the County Board of Supervisors revamped the ordinance that regulates retail tobacco sales in unincorporated parts of the county, strengthening penalties for sales to minors. While sales to minors in unincorporated areas increased slightly this year, public health officials believe the tougher law will ultimately reduce sales to minors. “It takes time for new regulations to have the desired impact,” explained Dawn Dunn, Tobacco Prevention Program Administrator for the Public Health Department. “There is definitely a learning curve here. We’ve seen this in other communities around the state. Several cities are now looking at adopting the new tobacco ordinance so we’re optimistic that sales to minors will decline in future years”. For more information about youth access to tobacco products or tobacco retail licensing, please contact Ms. Dunn, at 681-5407 or

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