The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced their annual compliance checks at retail outlets showed tobacco sales to minors are at an all-time low. The 2010 Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey revealed the lowest rates of tobacco sales to minors in the survey’s 15 year history, with sales transactions being completed at just 7.7 percent of the 742 retail outlets surveyed this year.
“The continued decline of illegal sales to minors is very encouraging,” said CDPH Director Dr. Mark Horton. “Since 3 of 4 adult smokers started using tobacco before they were 18, we know it is critical to limit youth access to illegal sales both for the health of the child as well as their life long use of tobacco products.”
When the state first started monitoring in 1995, the minors participating in the survey were able to buy tobacco products during 37 percent of tobacco purchase attempts. In 2008, it was 12.6 percent, and in 2009 it was 8.6 percent. This year that number went down to 7.7 percent.
Among types of stores surveyed in 2010, drugstores and pharmacies had no illegal sales in 43 purchase attempts. Traditional stores, such as grocery, drug, tobacco, liquor, and gas stations, sold an all-time average low of 6.8 percent. Among these store types, those with lower illegal sales rates were liquor stores (4.5 percent) and supermarkets (5.5 percent). Tobacco sales at doughnut shops dropped significantly, from 21.6 percent in 2009 to 8.7 percent in 2010.
Discount or gift stores have the highest rate of illegal tobacco sales with 22.6 percent in 2010, considerably higher than its rate of 8.9 percent in 2009.
This annual survey of illegal sales of cigarettes to minors is conducted to gauge the rate of illegal tobacco sales across the country and to comply with the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act. States with rates of illegal sales of tobacco to youth above 20 percent, risk losing as much as 40 percent of federally provided drug and alcohol prevention and treatment funds. California retailers that sell tobacco products to minors are also subject to fines ranging from $200 to $6,000.