LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Retailers who sell tobacco products and are located near schools will be the targets of an educational and enforcement campaign announced  by City Attorney Mike Feuer as part of an effort to prevent sales of cigarettes and other smoking-related paraphernalia to minors.

The Responsible Retailer Initiative is being funded by a $175,000 grant provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the county Department of Public Health.

“Our new initiative will protect kids by empowering parents and engaging retailers in an ongoing program to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors,” Feuer said. “This project goes hand-in-hand with our Neighborhood School Safety Program, which collaborates with key stakeholders to enhance the health and safety of our youth.”

The program is focused on education efforts directed at tobacco retailers located near schools, ensuring they are up to date on tobacco laws and “responsible retail practices.” It will also reach out to students and parents.

It will initially focus on areas with high concentrations of tobacco retailers and illegal sales rates, and will contact retailers both by mail and one-on-one discussions.

Feuer noted that his office is also stepping up compliance checks on the 4,182 permitted tobacco retailers in the city, increasing the number of checks from 446 in the last fiscal year to 700 this year. He also said he plans to ask the City Council to approve increased penalties for retailers who violate regulations.