Texas Tobacco Enforcement – For Law Enforcement
Texas Model of Enforcement
Reducing minor’s access is the ultimate goal of applying the elements of a model enforcement program. Enforcement of our state’s tobacco control laws sends a message to the public that community leaders believe these policies are important.
In Texas, this effort involves a multi-pronged approach: providing compliance education to retailers and school-aged youth, enforcing laws on retail sales of tobacco products to minors, and citing minors who are in possession of tobacco.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous studies have shown that a combination of educating retailers along with active, graduated enforcement of tobacco access laws is most effective in reducing illegal sales to minors.
Compliance Education of Tobacco Retailers
Providing comprehensive merchant education, including information on health effects, before enforcement activity begins will help build support among retailers for enforcing sales restrictions and can deter retailer violations.
After retailers have been educated on how to comply with tobacco access law, compliance inspections are necessary. Compliance inspections reinforce to permit holders the importance of abiding by the tobacco laws. They can also be an opportunity for retailers to get on-site assistance if they are not in compliance.
After retailers have been educated on compliance with the tobacco laws and they have received on-site assistance, the next step is to test for compliance. Conducting controlled buys using a minor decoy will identify retailers who refuse to obey the law and continue to sell cigarettes and/or tobacco products to minors.
Follow up on Violators and Non-Violators
Following up on violators will emphasize the importance and impact of compliance through fines and penalties. Following up on non-violators will establish and keep good rapport with the retailers and will promote voluntary compliance. Certificates of Recognition can be used to reward compliant retailers. These are available upon request from the Comptroller’s office.
Compliance Education of School-Aged Youth
Providing comprehensive compliance education, knowledge of the laws regarding possession of tobacco by minors, and the consequences of violating those laws are critical to conveying the importance of children not using tobacco. This education should include information on health effects of tobacco along with prevention strategies to minors’ using tobacco.
Enforcement of Minor in Possession (MIP)
Educating and enforcing retailer compliance with tobacco laws may keep youth from purchasing tobacco products. However, young people will turn to social sources (e.g. older friends and family members) of tobacco products as commercial sources are reduced. Assessing the fines and penalties associated with a Minor in Possession infraction may deter youth from smoking in the future.