April 7, 1998 98-R-0531
FROM: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst
RE: Selling Spray Paint to Juveniles
You asked how other jurisdictions regulate the sale of spray paint to juveniles.
We identified five jurisdictions regulating retail sales of spray paint: California, Guam, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Texas. All but Texas regulate spray paint sales as part of broader anti-graffiti measures. All four require retailers to post warning signs. Guam prohibits selling any spray paint to minors. California and Rhode Island prohibit selling spray paint capable of defacing property to minors. California and Guam restrict the possession of spray paint by both minors and adults. The Guamanian law also applies to indelible broad-tipped markers.
Texas regulates spray paint sales to prevent juveniles from abusing the product by inhaling its fumes. Retailers must obtain a state permit to sell it and store it in a way that discourages theft.
California prohibits anyone from selling or giving a spray paint container of more than six ounces capable of defacing property to minors (someone less than 18 years old). Minors are prohibited from buying such spray paint. Parents and guardians are exempt.
The law prohibits anyone from possessing spray paint (1) in public view in any public facility posted with a sign stating that it is a crime to possess spray paint in the facility without proper authorization or (2) in a public place, including a street, for the purpose of defacing property.
It requires retailers selling spray paint to conspicuously post a sign stating, in letters at least 3/8 of an inch high, that defacing property with spray paint is an act of vandalism and punishable with a fine, imprisonment, or both (Cal. Penal Code § 594.1).
Guam prohibits selling spray paint or broad-tipped indelible markers to a minor and prohibits minors from buying them. It also prohibits (1) anyone from writing, painting, or drawing on any public or private building or structure without prior written authorization; (2) anyone from possessing spray paint or a broad-tipped indelible marker with intent to commit an act of graffiti; and (3) minors from possessing spray paint or such a marker on public or private property without the owner's consent.
The law requires retailers to post a sign near the product display stating that graffiti is a crime and a second sign near the cashier stating that it is against the law to sell spray paint or broad-tipped indelible markers to minors (9 Guam Code Ann. § 34.70).
New Jersey requires spray paint retailers to post a sign near the product display or the cashier warning that a juvenile who commits an act of graffiti is subject to a one-year driver's license suspension for a first offense and a two-year suspension for a second offense (N.J.S.A §2C:33-25).
Rhode Island prohibits selling spray paint capable of defacing property to minors. Retailers must conspicuously post a notice of the law in letters at least 3/8 of an inch high. The law also prohibits minors from possessing spray paint, except on property owned or rented by a parent or guardian (R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-9-19 & 11-9-19.1).
Texas seeks to prevent juveniles from abusing spray paint by inhaling its fumes. It prohibits retailers from selling or giving “abusable glue or aerosol paint” to minors. It requires these retailers to obtain a state permit. They must post a sign stating that it is illegal to sell to minors and that the offense is a third degree felony. It requires retailers to display spray paint in a location that (1) is in the direct line of sight of a cashier or another workstation that is continuously staffed, (2) is accessible only to store employees, or (3) is electronically monitored by surveillance equipment (V.T.C.A. §§ 485.012 to 485.019).