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Texas Statewide Tobacco Education & Prevention - Texas STEP



Texas STEPís Model of Tobacco Enforcement©


Reducing illegal tobacco sales to minors and minor's access to tobacco through social sources is the ultimate goal of operating a local STEP program.  By applying the elements of Texas STEP's model enforcement protocol you can work to ensure that your local efforts are reaching all the essential community members to make your program successful.

Tobacco education & prevention is essential for our children's health, and legal compliance education and strict enforcement of our local and state tobacco control laws sends a message to the public that community leaders take this issue seriously and believe these policies are important. 

With Texas STEP, this effort involves a multi-pronged approach: providing compliance education to retailers and school-aged youth, testing for compliance and enforcing laws on retail sales of tobacco products to minors, and citing minors who are in possession of tobacco in order to get them referred to a tobacco awareness class.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous studies have shown that a combination of educating retailers and active, graduated enforcement of tobacco access laws is most effective in reducing illegal sales to minors.

b-button1.gif (241 bytes)Compliance Education of Tobacco Retailers

Providing comprehensive merchant education, including information on health effects, before enforcement activity begins helps build support among retailers for enforcing sales restrictions and can deter retailer violations.

b-button2.gif (270 bytes)Compliance Inspections

After retailers have been educated on how to comply with tobacco access law, compliance inspections are necessary. Compliance inspections reinforce the importance of compliance. They can also be an opportunity for retailers to get on-site assistance if they are not in compliance.

b-button3.gif (290 bytes)Controlled Buys/Stings

After retailers have been educated on compliance with the tobacco laws and they have received on-site assistance, the next step is to test for compliance. Conducting controlled buys using a minor decoy will identify retailers who refuse to obey the law and continue to sell cigarettes and/or tobacco products to minors.

b-button4.gif (277 bytes)Follow up on Violators and Non-Violators

Following up on violators will emphasize the importance and impact of compliance through fines and penalties. Following up on non-violators will establish and keep good rapport with the retailers and will promote voluntary compliance.

b-button5.gif (273 bytes)Compliance Education of School-Aged Youth

Providing comprehensive compliance education, knowledge of the laws regarding possession of tobacco by minors, and the consequences of violating those laws is critical to conveying the importance of youth not to  use tobacco. This education should include information on health effects of tobacco along with prevention strategies to minorsí using tobacco.

b-button6.gif (312 bytes)Enforcement of Minor in Possession (MIP)

Educating and enforcing retailer compliance with tobacco laws may keep youth from purchasing tobacco products. However, young people will turn to social sources (e.g. older friends, school mates, and family members) of tobacco products as commercial sources are reduced.  Assessing the fines and penalties associated with a Minor in Possession of Tobacco infraction may deter youth from smoking in the future, and allows those children cited to be directed to a tobacco awareness class that can help break the child's tobacco addiction.


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