PHOENIX – Youth volunteers with the Attorney General’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit (TEU) will be recognized at the July 21 Arizona Diamondbacks game for their hard work in conducting undercover inspections throughout Arizona to check if retailers are selling tobacco products to minors. The program is called Operation Counter Strike. The goal is to reduce youth access to tobacco in retail outlets by systematically monitoring retailer compliance with Arizona’s prohibition on the sale of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) to persons under 18.
Each summer, the Counter Strike Program hosts a recognition ceremony to honor our dedicated volunteers from every corner of Arizona. This year’s ceremony will be held on July 21. The Arizona Diamondbacks have once again generously offered to host this ceremony, which includes admission to Chase Field, the use of a conference room for the ceremony, and a location for the volunteers to watch the game after on-field recognition of the youth volunteers. The recognition ceremony demonstrates to the volunteers and the public that Arizona greatly values their service.
“It would be impossible to conduct these inspections without the assistance of our outstanding youth volunteers,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “As we strongly confront youth e-cigarette use at new and troubling levels, the dedication of the youth volunteers in protecting children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction is more important than ever.”
During fiscal year 2019, Operation Counter Strike performed inspections of retailers in every county in Arizona with the assistance of over 100 youth volunteers. The youth volunteers, accompanied by special agents from the Attorney General’s Office, enter tobacco retailers and attempt to purchase tobacco products. If the retailer sells a tobacco product to the volunteer, they may be given a citation for furnishing tobacco to a minor, an offense with a potential fine of $300. The business also may be fined up to $1,000 per offense. The AGO Counter Strike Program conducts approximately 2,000 inspections per year, with over 30,000 retail inspections performed since the program’s inception.
- From July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, the statewide failure rate dropped to 9.8%, the lowest annual failure rate ever recorded by the Attorney General’s Office.
- So far in 2019, more than 580 inspections have been conducted, and the failure rate has increased to 15%.
If you believe a retailer is selling tobacco products (including e-cigarettes to minors), you can help by submitting a complaint to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.