This study reports the sales rate of cigarettes to minors in San Diego County, and investigates factors associated with cigarette sales to minors. Two hundred and ninety-four stores were identified and recruited to participate in a retailer education effort. To assess the baseline illegal sales rate of cigarettes to minors, selected stores were surveyed by 70 volunteer teams of adults and minors. Questionnaires were also administered to participating store owners or managers to assess retailers' knowledge about laws regulating minors' access to tobacco. Survey results indicated that minors were able to successfully purchase cigarettes in 68% of attempts. In addition, teen gender, community sociodemographics and cashier characteristics were associated with sales to minors. Analyses of the retailer questionnaire indicated retailers knew the legal age to purchase cigarettes, but few knew of the specific penalties associated with sales to minors. These findings indicate that minors have easy access to cigarettes and underscore the need for intensive tobacco sales education for retailers and enforcement of sales to minors laws.