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Underage Tobacco Sales Exposed

By William Redman
Community Writer
05/16/2024 at 09:56 AM

In a bold move to amplify youth voices and confront the realities of underage tobacco sales, Music Changing Lives (MCL) and the California Health Collaborative - San Bernardino County Tobacco Control Program (CHC - SBCTCP) are gearing up for their Youth-Led Community Resource Fair happening on June 1, 2024. This event, slated to take place from 2:00pm - 5:00pm at the United In Christ Baptist Church, marks a significant milestone in the fight against underage tobacco consumption.

 

The Resource Fair is a follow-up to the recent Community Dialogue events held in February and March, where the organizations revealed alarming findings from their collaborative investigative efforts. The Community Dialogues, attended by concerned community members, served as a platform to dissect the prevalence of underage tobacco sales and strategize preventive measures.

 

During decoy operations conducted in early 2024, youths aged 18 to 20 were deployed to local tobacco retailers in Apple Valley, only to discover that they could readily purchase tobacco products, including flavored Swisher Sweets, despite California's ban on flavored tobacco since late 2022 under Senate Bill 793. Patricia Lopez, CHC Program Manager, grimly affirmed, "Our youth were able to purchase tobacco products in Apple Valley even being under 21."

 

In response to these findings, the Apple Valley Against Tobacco campaign was initiated at the onset of 2024, fueled by a sense of urgency to safeguard the youth from the perils of tobacco use. Apple Valley Council Member Curt Emick, echoing the community's concerns during the March event, emphasized the imperative to educate and hold accountable retailers who ignore laws by selling to underage youth. "Let’s let those companies know. Put it on Facebook – this company sells to 18-year-olds," urged Emick.

 

While specific retailer names remain confidential, community members are urged to expose offenders to thwart future sales to minors and disseminate vital information to the broader community. A comprehensive report on underage tobacco sales in Apple Valley by the CHC - SBCTCP will be made available to the public in the coming months.

 

 

The upcoming Community Resource Fair on June 1 will be a rallying point for community members and youth advocates alike. The youth-led event will be aimed at addressing underage tobacco sales, use, and overdose prevention. Participants will have access to valuable resources, engage in crucial dialogue, enjoy live musical performances and art activities, all while learning actionable ways to combat underage tobacco sales and contribute positively to their community.

 

Josiah Bruny, CEO & Founder of MCL emphasized the pivotal role of the community involvement, stating, "Through collective action and sustained advocacy, progress can be achieved in preventing access of tobacco products to minors and promoting healthier lifestyles for our youth."

 

Join Music Changing Lives and the California Health Collaborative - San Bernardino County Tobacco Control Program on June 1 as they continue their mission to foster awareness, education, and action surrounding tobacco-related public health issues. 

 

For more information and to RSVP, visit www.musicchanginglives.org/upcoming-events . For direct inquiries, please call 951-992-0721.