City applies for tobacco grant

The city of Susanville will seek a Tobacco Law Enforcement Grant to cover an array of different types of activities, not only for undercover buy operations. The grant does not require the city to provide a percentage of matching funds.

The California Department of Justice recently released this grant, funded by Proposition 56. The proposition, also known as the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Act of 2016, provides local public agencies with funding to promote a healthier California by reducing illegal sales and marketing of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors.

Approved by the voters in 2016, Proposition 56 increased taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products by $2 starting in April 2017. The initiative specifically allocates $30 million of annual revenue to the California Department of Justice.

The Office of the Attorney General makes these annual funds available to local law enforcement agencies through the California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program.

Any local public agency within the state of California that has the authority to enforce tobacco-related state laws or local ordinances is eligible to apply.

Eligible agencies include cities, counties, public school districts, college districts, law enforcement agencies, city attorneys and county counsels. Select public agencies will be funded up to a three-year cycle and the funding amount will be evaluated based on the submitted grant proposal.

Susanville program manager Quincy McCourt told the council, “If we are awarded this grant, they encourage us to apply every year to continue our programs to potentially grow them.”

If the city is provided with the grant, they may use the funds for many different operations. Examples of those operations include retailer compliance checks, retailer training programs, installation of signage, youth outreach, tobacco retail license inspections or preventing and deterring use of tobacco products on school premises.

McCourt told the city council the city of Alturas received an almost $230,000 grant. McCourt said he anticipated a similar allotment if the grant is accepted.

The grant given to Alturas comprised of the police department hiring a code enforcement/community outreach officer for tobacco enforcement, funds for print and radio advertisements and to distribute educational materials.

McCourt said to the council, “In meeting with sergeant Sobol, we think we have the creative opportunity … because I do not know much about law enforcement and he does. We have been figuring out ways to … be creative.”