The Oakland Police Department Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco (ABAT) Unit conducted a special investigation last month, targeting local Smoke Shops. Calls of concern from community members led to the recovery of prohibited flavored tobacco products sold to minors at two stores.
During a follow-up inspection, a large quantity of banned flavored tobacco products with an estimated value between $10,000 - $15,000, were seized from the store in violation of Oakland’s Tobacco Ordinance. The Oakland City Council passed an emergency ordinance in 2020 prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Working with the community, OPD continues to educate store owners regarding the serious consequences they face for selling tobacco products to those who are under the legal limit of 21 years of age. The special enforcement provides an opportunity to keep the youth in our communities safe while holding smoke shop owners accountable for harmful and illegal activity.
“The first line of defense in preventing children from obtaining tobacco products is the responsibility of merchants who sell it. Any store found out of compliance will face penalties,” said Officer Jennifer Sena of Oakland Police Department’s ABAT Unit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80% of high school students report using flavored tobacco products, and often tobacco products are first used in adolescence. State law requires that tobacco retailers check the identification of customers who reasonably appear to be under 21 years of age.
The clerks who sold tobacco were issued citations, could face fines and be required to take mandatory training from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
Additional tobacco operations will be conducted to ensure compliance with the Ordinance and are funded through a special grant OPD received from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) STAKE Grant Program. To report prohibited sales of tobacco products in Oakland, please call the ABAT Complaint Hotline (510) 777-8677.