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(A Program of the Division of Addiction Services)
Prevention Services Unit

Strategic Plan For A Comprehensive
Tobacco Control Program

Enforcement

 

  1. BACKGROUND

    1. General

      The enforcement of tobacco age of sale control policies and regulations on environmental tobacco smoke serves two primary purposes: it deters violations and it promotes the idea that community leaders believe that these policies are important.55 These enforcement activities support the following goals and objectives:

      Goal 1:  To decrease the acceptability of tobacco use among all populations.
    2. Increase the number of local policies and ordinances restricting tobacco use and access in public places.
    3. Reduce non-compliance of local vendors with State and Federal laws prohibiting sale of tobacco products to minors to 20% by FY2001.
    4. Goal 2:  To decrease youth initiation of tobacco use
    5. Reduce non-compliance of local vendors with State and Federal laws prohibiting sale of tobacco products to minors to 20% by FY2001.
    6. Goal 4:  To decrease exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
    7. Enforce the local policies and ordinances restricting tobacco use and access in public places.
    8. Increase number of local policies and ordinances restricting tobacco use and access in public place.
    9. Increase the number of non-smoking workplaces in New Jersey including restaurants and bars.
    10. Increase the number of schools with smoke-free campuses and smoke-free school sponsored events.
    11. Tobacco Age of Sale Laws (Access by Minors)

      It has been illegal to sell tobacco products to youth in New Jersey for many years. However, until 1996, this law had not been actively enforced. Since then, there has been active enforcement of the tobacco age of sale law in this State.

      Studies have shown that tobacco age of sale laws reduce illegal sales to minors.56,57,58 These laws can make access to tobacco products more difficult for youth and they increase the awareness of youth and adults that youth use of tobacco products is not acceptable behavior. There is a small but growing body of literature that shows that "enforcement of youth smoking suggests although it is an important and essential elements of a comprehensive effort to reduce young people's use of tobacco,... young people may turn to social sources (e.g.: older friends and family members) of tobacco products as commercial sources are reduced. Therefore, it is critical that minors' access restrictions be combined with a comprehensive tobacco control program that reduces the available of social sources and limits the appeal of tobacco products."59

      Federal Regulations

      In July 1992, Congress enacted the ADAMHA (Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration) Reorganization Act (P.L. 102- 321), which included an amendment, authored by Representative Michael Synar. The Act requires States to reduce access to tobacco products by youth under the age of 18. Congress now requires States to enact and enforce laws prohibiting any manufacturer, retailer, or distributor from selling or distributing tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18.

      In January, 1996, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) issued the Synar Regulation which required that each State's random, unannounced inspections employ a valid probability sample of all tobacco vendors in the State. (The compliance checks must be conducted in such a way that the results can be generalized to the entire State). It also required that each State's annual SAPT (Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment) Block Grant application contain a strategy and suggested time frame for achieving an inspection failure rate of 20% or less of outlets accessible to minors. Failure to achieve the compliance rate which has been identified by the federal agency can result in a 40% reduction in the State's award for the federal Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Block Grant. In New Jersey, this means a potential loss of $18 million in federal funds for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

      Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke

      Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is detrimental to the health of the non-smoker. In 1993, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its report, "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking". This seminal report categorized ETS as a Class A (most dangerous) human carcinogen and identified ETS as the cause of respiratory illnesses in children.60 A recent study at the University of Auckland in New Zealand concluded that breathing other people's cigarette smoke makes nonsmokers 82 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, which indicates that the dangers of ETS may have been underestimated.61

      In the 1970s, New Jersey was a leader in restricting the nonsmokers' exposure to ETS. Most of the State statutes relating to ETS date back to this period. Current State law only requires that restaurants declare themselves to have a non-smoking section; it does not required a non-smoking section, nor does it require a separate ventilation system even if there is a non-smoking section. Current State law does not prohibit smoking in the workplace. Rather, it requires that employers with more than 50 employees have a smoking policy. It does not require any separation between the smoking and non-smoking areas. Although smoking in public buildings is prohibited, State laws do permit smoking areas under certain conditions.

      Most of the more recent restriction on exposure to ETS have occurred at the municipal level. Some municipalities have a complete ban on smoking in public buildings, other have banned smoking in public places which are frequented by children, others have bans on smoking in restaurants and workplaces.

    12. Current Programs in New Jersey

      Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement Program (TASE)

      In January, 1996, N.J.S.A. 26:2F-7 as amended by Public Law 1995, Chapter 320 and N.J.S.A. 2A:170-51 as amended by Public Law 1995, Chapter 304 were enacted which permitted the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH), now the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to actively restrict the sale of tobacco products to youth. The laws authorized the Commissioner of Health (now Health and Senior Services) to delegate the enforcement efforts to local health departments and mandated monetary and other penalties for noncompliance by merchants. For the first offense, the merchant can be penalized $250; for the second offense, a merchant can be penalized $500; for a third and subsequent offenses, fines up to $1,000 may be imposed. After a second offense, a municipality may recommend to the NJ Department of Treasury that the retail license be revoked.

      Participation in this State program by local health departments is voluntary. When it was first implemented, a Merchant Advisory Committee met with DHSS staff and developed the Merchant Education Packet and the Training Manual for Local Health Departments. Local Health Officers, Sanitation Officers and other staff participated in an intense statewide training. It is important to note that while in 1994, the merchant noncompliance rate was 84%, and in 1995 it was 75%, but in 1996 (the first year of enforcement), the rate dropped to 44%. It has continued to drop in subsequent years to 27% in 1997, and 26.5% in 1998.

      Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Enforcement Program

      In 1999, a contract was signed with the FDA to conduct investigations in New Jersey to determine compliance with the federal regulation, that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors and requires vendors to check identification. This program is conducted by part-time State employees and is funded by the FDA. The State employees make compliance checks to merchants and report the results to the State Tobacco Control Program and the FDA. The FDA issues warning letters, summons and is responsible for the collection of fines. Fines are as follows: after the second violation a fine of $250 can be assessed; after the third offense, a fine of $1500 can be assessed; for the fourth violation a fine of $5,000 can be assessed and after the fifth violation, a fine of $10,000 can be assessed. There is no individual merchant education associated with this program.

    13. Other States and Best Practices

      This section outlines best practices and other states' approaches to enforcement of age of sale laws and restrictions on exposure to environmental tobacco smoke:

      Tobacco Age of Sale

      • CDC recommends that age of sale enforcement programs: 1) conduct frequent retailer compliance checks during the year; 2) impose a graduated series of civil penalties on the retailer, including license revocation; 3) eliminate tobacco vending machines and self-services displays in stores accessible to young people.62
      • Communities in Massachusetts and other states have worked to establish ordinances and provisions restricting youth access including restrictions on sales or marketing, sale of individual cigarettes and free samples.63

      Enforcement Activities

      • CDC recommends that enforcement activities include: 1)education of the public, policymakers, employers, employees and the organizations which represent them about the health effect of ETS and the need for restrictions; 2) a simple and effective method to permit the reporting of violations; 3) clear assignment of responsibility for enforcement activities; 4) penalties for violations.64

  2. PROPOSED APPROACH

    Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement Programs

    1. Target Population

      Tobacco Age of Sale Enforcement programs should continue to target the adult merchant community to refrain from the sale of tobacco products to youth.

    2. Basic Principles

      1. Merchant education and cooperation with the merchant community is the cornerstone of this program. The program will continue to work with the merchant community to identify strategies to continue and increase compliance with New Jersey and federal age of sale regulations.

      2. In conjunction with youth programs, efforts will be made to educate youth regarding the prohibition of sale of tobacco products to them and the possible consequences to retail vendors.

      3. The State program (TASE) will work with local public policymakers and local health departments to achieve 100% participation in the program by these departments.

      4. The State TASE program and the FDA enforcement program will continue to work cooperatively and reinforce the work of each other.

    3. Opportunities for Public/Private Partnerships

      The long-term effectiveness of a tobacco age of sale enforcement program is dependent on the cooperation and support of the merchant community and public support of the program.

      Potential partners include the following:

      • Local retail merchants
      • New Jersey trade organizations (e.g.: gas station operators)
      • Convenience stores and grocery stores and their organizations
      • Other retailers which sell tobacco products
      • Parent organizations
      • Youth organizations
      • Schools

Restrictions On Exposure To Environmental Tobacco Smoke

  1. Target Population

    The target populations are policy and opinion makers, the general public, employers and employees and the organizations which represent them.

  2. Basic Principles

    1. Any restrictions on exposure to environmental tobacco smoke will be proceeded by in-depth education activities aimed at the general public, policy and opinion makers, employers, employees and organizations which represent them and the health care community.

    2. Voluntary adoption of smoking restrictions will be encouraged.

    3. Support by grassroots organizations is one of the most effect methods to bring about restrictions on smoking in public places and the workplace at the municipal level.

    4. Support by grassroots organizations and statewide coalitions is essential to bring about restrictions on smoking in public places and the workplace at the State level.

    5. Support by employers and employees is essential for successful implementation of restrictions in the workplace.

  3. Opportunities for Public/Private Partnerships

    To strengthen restrictions on youth smoking in New Jersey, partnerships are essential. The following are partnerships may be appropriate:

    1. Employers
    2. Employees and employee organizations
    3. Statewide coalitions
    4. Managed health care organizations and health care insurance carriers
    5. Health care community
    6. Local, County and State policymakers
    7. Parents organizations
    8. Youth organizations

This document may only be reproduced in its entirety. No portion of this document may be reproduced without the permission of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

1999 New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

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