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Reward and Reminder Retail Intervention on Southern California TribalReservations Shows Reduction in Commercial Tobacco Sales to Apparent Minors

Valley Center, CA. May 15, 2024 – Indian Health Council, Inc. through the TEPOC (Tobacco Education Prevention Outreach Cessation) program is proud to announce its publication in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, a peer-reviewed journal. The brief report, “Reducing Commercial Tobacco Sales to Youth On and Around California Tribal Reservations with a Reward and Reminder Retail Intervention,” reveals an approximate 25% reduction in commercial tobacco product sales to apparent minors.


American Indian and Alaska Native youth have higher rates of commercial tobacco product (CTP) use compared to other groups. Youth access to CTP must be lowered. TEPOC, a research project in the Research and Student Development Department at Indian Health Council, implemented a retailer intervention to reduce commercial availability of CTP to youth.

The TEPOC team gained support from seven of IHC’s healthcare consortium Tribes, in the form of Tribal resolutions. Co-author, Dr. Alec Calac, emphasized that the project would not have been possible without support from local Tribal governments. "We are so fortunate to work with Tribal leaders who prioritize public health interventions protecting youth and adolescents," Calac shared.

TEPOC identified tobacco retail outlets on and near nine Tribal reservations in San Diego’s North County. Volunteer buyers attempted to purchase CTP without showing age identification. Clerks who did not sell to the volunteers received a reward, while clerks who did sell were reminded of the law.

This intervention is one of the first to happen in Tribal communities and have Tribal guidance. TEPOC Co-Principal Investigator Roland Moore (PIRE California) states, “Because environmental interventions focused on improving the health of Indigenous youth are rare in the scientific literature, our research team shares practical ways to reinforce Tribal leaders’ resolutions that commercial tobacco sales outlet employees must check the identification of young people trying to purchase these dangerous products.”


Reference: Kornacki, C., Rodriguez, J., Rodriguez, J., Calac, A. J., Calac, D., Lee, J., Moore, R., Brucks, L., Jacques, I., Yang, M., Almodovar, V., & Berber, S. S. (2024). Reducing Commercial Tobacco Sales to Youth On and Around California Tribal Reservations With a Reward and Reminder Retail Intervention. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntae110


This research was supported by the UC Office of the President’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) grants T30IR0933 and T32CF5371 (Co-PIs Calac and Moore).


Nicotine and Tobacco Research is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. Its focus is nicotine and tobacco research, including themes like biobehavioral science, molecular biology, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. NTR is peer-reviewed and does not include research from commercial tobacco manufacturers.

IHC's Student Development Program works in partnership with the California Native American Research Center for Health (CA-NARCH). The Student Development Program helps native students achieve careers in healthcare and STEM sciences. The program provides mentorship and the opportunity for students to engage in research projects and shadow clinical professionals. IHC, in partnership with academic institutions California State University San Marcos, Palomar Community College, San Diego State University and University of California San Diego, is funded as a Native American Research Center for Health (CA-NARCH) by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and Indian Health Services (IHS). It is one of 14 NARCH organizations in the United States.


Under the leadership of Dan Calac, MD (Indian Health Council) and Stephanie Brodine, MD (SDSU), CA-NARCH began as an exciting concept funded by seed money in 2001. A NARCH grant of $1.3 million in 2003 enabled CA-NARCH to begin fully pursuing its goals to strengthen tribal sovereignty over the healthcare of the community and to recruit and support students pursuing science and health fields.


CA-NARCH is a partnership of Tribal/Urban Indian Organizations and academic institutions committed to working together to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native scientists and health professionals; and to reduce health disparities in Native American populations.

Goals of CA-NARCH:


  • Develop a team of Native American scientists and health professionals engaged in biomedical, clinical, and behavioral research.

  • To promote community based participatory research in Native American communities.

  • Encourage competitive research to reduce health disparities.


Founded in 1970, Indian Health Council is a healthcare institution serving nine federally recognized consortium tribes of the Native American reservations in San Diego’s north county region. This non-profit 501(c)(3) entity occupies two health centers in Rincon and Santa Ysabel; headquartered in an expansive Rincon facility.


Indian Health Council is collectively representative of several divisions including Medical, Dental, Behavioral Health, Pharmacy, Administration, and Support Services. Within these departments, many programs and services are performed including Health Promotions, Research and Student Development, and Tribal Family Services. Nine tribes and associated reservation populations are served by and participate in the IHC healthcare consortium: La Jolla Band of Luiseño Mission Indians, Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla & Cupeño Indians, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians, Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, and Inaja-Cosmit Band of Indians.

Indian Health Council partners with numerous grant funded programs and local institutions to implement culturally aware programs and events promoting good health and mental wellness through a combination of modern medicine and traditional, cultural medicine practices.

Indian Health Council works to encourage, train, and promote native people into positions in healthcare. The organization also works to enhance the work-experience for natives currently in courses of collegiate studies, research and development.


For further information on this announcement or any other programs or services at Indian Health Council please contact:

Orvin Hanson, CEO

(760) 749-1410 ext. 5228





TEPOC - Research Publication in Nicotine and Tobacco Research - Press Release Official
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