In July 2017 it was announced that New Jersey was set to become the third state in the nation to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 19 to 21. This new law, which went into effect on November 1, 2017 applies to e-cigarettes, as well as conventional tobacco products, and triggers fines against anyone who sells, gives or offers such products to someone younger than 21. In response to this change, the STOMP (Stop Tobacco Offenses Merchant Program) campaign was established to increase merchant education on age of sale requirements and help decrease youth access to tobacco products and exposure to tobacco advertising. The HCCDFC (Hudson County Coalition for a Drug Free Community) participated in this initiative throughout the month of November.Our first strategy was placing a public service announcement in the Jersey Journal. The ad chosen was our “It’s Not Personal, It’s the Law” campaign which was adjusted to reflect the new age of sale. For the Great American Smoke out, we visited 27 stores and supplied them with education packets, in addition to asking them to sign a pledge to follow recently implemented guidelines on tobacco products;18 store owners signed the pledge. College task force students and a coalition volunteer assisted us with these visits. Additionally, at our November coalition meeting staff facilitated mini-training to members in attendance so that they can execute similar visits in their free time. Last but not least, information was sent to our school contacts with resources in addition to distribution of the prevention book “Uninvited Guest”. All in all, it was a successful month for tobacco prevention in Hudson County!
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