Welcome to the State of California 

Stop Tobacco Access to Kids (STAKE) Background

In 1992 Congress passed Section 1926 of Title XIX of the federal Public Health Service Act, commonly called the Synar Amendment.   The Synar Amendment requires states to pass and enforce laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to individuals under 18 years of age.  It also requires that federal alcohol and substance abuse block grant funding be applied to enforcing state law in a a manner that can reasonably be expected to reduce the illegal sales rate of tobacco products to minors.  Up to 40% of the block grant funding can be withheld from states for not complying with the Synar Amendment.

In May 1994, the Department of Health Services, Tobacco Control Section (DHS/TCS) and tobacco control advocates from 23 counties throughout the state undertook an unprecedented massive effort to document how easily available tobacco products were to minors.  Over 400 youth, 13-17 years of age, surveyed more than 1,800 retail stores.  The results of the 1994 Youth Purchase Survey indicated that the illegal sales rate was 52.1%.

In September 1994, the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act was signed into law creating Business & Professions Code 22950 - 22960 to address the increase in tobacco sales to minors and fulfill the federal mandate.

Program Requirements

The STAKE Act created a new statewide enforcement program to take regulating action against businesses that illegally sell tobacco to minors. Authority for enforcement and responsibility for implementation of the program was delegated to the Department of Health Services, Food & Drug Branch (FDB).  The Act required DHS to:

  • implement an enforcement program to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors and to conduct sting operations using 15 and 16 year old minors granted immunity;
  • operate a toll-free number for the public to report illegal tobacco sales to minors;
  • assure that tobacco retailers post warning signs which include the toll-free number to report violations;
  • assure clerks check the identification of youthful-appearing persons prior to a sale;
  • assess civil penalties ranging from $200 to $6,000 against the store owner for violations; and
  • comply with the SYNAR Amendment and prepare an annual report regarding enforcement activities and their effectiveness for the federal government, Legislature, and Governor.
Last modified on: 5/16/2008 3:24 PM