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We believe these varying degrees of enforcement follow-up actions to noncompliant retailers are the main factor contributing to the differences in illegal sales rates among the sixteen cities and the differences in illegal sales rates from the first, second and third post-ordinance surveys.

STAMP also collected pre- and post-ordinance data in two additional cities which passed weak youth access ordinances containing no prohibition on self-service tobacco sales/displays nor requirement of vendor-assisted tobacco sales. The survey results from these cities are:



 1st Post- Ordinance

 2nd Post- Ordinance

 Number of stores
City Surveyed

 Sales Rate

 Sales Rate

 Sales Rate

Rohnert Park









In addition, Sebastopol originally enacted a weak youth access ordinance with no self-service or vendor-assisted regulations. Based on three post-ordinance buying surveys, this original measure had no impact on reducing the rate of tobacco sales to minors.

Sebastopol then revised its original ordinance to include the self-service/vendor-assisted regulations, and the rate dropped from 53% to 13%.

It clearly appears from the data from these three cities that the self-service/vendor-assisted measures are the key regulation in reducing tobacco sales to minors.

Among the cities with the self-service/vendor-assisted regulations, you will notice that the buying survey data showed increases between the pre- and post-ordinance sales rates in Petaluma and Vallejo, and essentially the same pre- and post-rate in Healdsburg. This anomaly needs to be explained.

For several years prior to the enactment of the youth access regulations in these three cities, local police conducted aggressive enforcement and active merchant compliance activities in order to get local retailers to obey the state law prohibiting to tobacco sales to minors. The low pre-ordinance sales rates in Petaluma, Vallejo and Healdsburg reflect the impact of these intensive police activities. These activities ended at least a year and a half prior to the enactment of the youth access regulations.

Although the regulations appear to have kept the sales rates relatively low in Petaluma, Vallejo and Healdsburg, the police activities prior to the regulations obviously had a profound impact in reducing tobacco sales to minors. This finding is supported by the research literature which clearly shows pro-active law enforcement activities and police sting operations are the most effective way to reduce tobacco sales to minors. We believe the self-service/vendor-assisted and other regulations are the second best strategy of preventing underage tobacco sales.

STAMP's research on the impact of the self-service/vendor-assisted regulations also showed other interesting findings. STAMP found significantly increased checking of identification of young tobacco purchasers by retail store clerks and cashiers. Vendor-assisted tobacco sales requires store clerks and cashiers to obtain the tobacco product for the purchaser after he/she has asked for it. This greatly increases the interaction and interchange between the purchaser and the seller and lengthens the sales transaction time. STAMP believes this greatly increases the likelihood during this interchange and transaction that the clerk or cashier will notice the buyer may be underage and therefore prompting them to check the ID of the buyer. STAMP believes vendor-assisted tobacco sales promotes more accurate age-estimation assessment of tobacco purchasers by clerks and cashiers.

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