Recent secret operation found an ongoing problem with stores selling tobacco products to minors. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department worked with ordinance pressure and youth-serving agencies to conduct its annual act of tobacco products sales to youngsters. As in past investigation, a wide variation in cigarettes sales rates was seen throughout the county. Goleta had an alarmingly high rate of illegal sales with 39% (12/31) selling to the lure. Over the last five years of data, the cities of Carpinteria, Goleta, and Guadalupe all had their highest amounts of unlawful sales this year.

In addition, Solvang and Buellton’s rates increased meaningly in comparison to having no underage tobacco sales in 2011. Lompoc showed an important amelioration with only 3% (1/33) of retailers selling this year compared to 31% (9/29) last year. The unincorporated areas showed improvement as well with 13% (8/63) of cigarettes sales this year compared to 18% (11/62) last year. Santa Maria retailers continued to show strong compliance to the ordinances with only 3% (2/79) selling this year and 6% (2/31) selling last year.

In 2012, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors intensified the penalties associated with selling tobacco products to minors.

Dawn Dunn, Program Administrator of the County’s Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program argued, “Although there is evidently room for improvement, we are pleased to see the illegal tobacco sales rate drop in the unincorporated areas which have a strong licensing regulation. We will continue to educate the retailers about the ordinances and the importance of checking ID’s and not selling cigs to minors.”