2012-2016 Tobacco Enforcement Program Report

Summary

Since FY2012, The Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University (TxSSC) has received funding from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch (DSHS) to implement the Tobacco Enforcement Program (TEP). The purpose of this statewide program is to enforce Subchapter H, Chapter 161 Texas Health and Safety Code, §161.082 – Sale of Cigarettes, E-cigarettes, and Tobacco Products to persons younger than 18 years of age prohibited: Proof of age required. Enforcement of minors’ access to tobacco laws also ensures the state’s compliance with Section 1926 of the Federal Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. Section 300x-26) and implementation of any regulations adopted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Funding for this program has averaged $1M annually.

To implement the program and ensure adequate statewide enforcement, TxSSC solicits applications from local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of conducting Controlled Buy/Stings and Follow-Up Controlled Buy/Stings of tobacco permitted & e-cigarette retail outlets across Texas. Selected law enforcement contractors providing services conduct On-site Controlled Buy/Stings and Follow-Up Controlled Buy/Stings involving the use of minors as decoys (i.e., “Stings”), record the Controlled Buy/Sting information on the DSHS Controlled Buy/Sting Report Form, and submit the activity reports monthly. TxSSC reimburses contracted law enforcement agencies $75.00 for each completed Controlled Buy/Sting conducted.

TEP has utilized the allocated funds received from DSHS to subcontract with more than 100 different law enforcement agencies representing 65 counties across all eleven HHSC regions. A total of 47,496 controlled buy/stings have been conducted to enforce illegal sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products to minors. The statewide violation rate for sales to minors has decreased from 7.3% in FY2012 to 5.9% in FY2016.

From September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2016, 47,496 controlled buy/stings were conducted across the state to enforce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors.

The data analyzed in this report was collected in fiscal years 2012 through 2016 (September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2016). The tables are comprised of data from 66 independent counties across Texas, with 103 total agencies that performed stings during this time period. Some of the key finding from this report are:

The statewide violation rate for sales to minors has decreased from 7.3% in FY2012 to 5.9% in FY2016.

  • Females were more likely than males to be sold tobacco products
  • Minors that were 16 years old were most likely to be sold tobacco products
  • Male clerks, aged 21-25, were most likely to sell tobacco products
  • While packages of cigarettes were the most frequent tobacco product purchased, there is a steady increase in electronic cigarette purchases