LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — City officials rolled out a new initiative Monday aimed at preventing kids from smoking through education efforts geared at parents and retailers.
Ten-year old Anthony Nava and his family live in L.A.’s Westlake District, where supermarkets are outnumbered by small convenience stores.
“They sell big bottles of alcohol, beer, cigarettes and all that stuff which makes me think that they should not do that,” according to Nava.
He’s among the target audience in a new plan announced by City Attorney Mike Feuer to educate store owners about the penalties of selling cigarettes and similar products to minors, according to CBS2/KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen.
Each year in the Southland and throughout California, 45 million cigarettes are sold to minors, according to Feuer.
Health experts say products like these – that come in a variety of sweet fruity flavors – often get kids hooked on smoking.
As part of its crackdown, the city is conducting about 800 compliance checks this year – nearly double from last year. The company that operates Ralphs and Food 4 Less is joining the effort to make sure its employees don’t sell to kids.
Fines for violators start at $400 and can go up into the thousands. Repeat offenders can have their tobacco license suspended as well.
“When our youth enter these stores they are exposed tobacco advertising,” said Los Angeles Count Interim Health Officer Jeffrey Gunzenhauser.
For Nava, however, he says he wants to own his own market when he grows up.
“If I have my own store, I would not sell drugs, alcohol and cigarettes and things,” he said. “I’ll probably sell food and snacks. Good heath food.”