4:22pm

Thu December 27, 2012
The Commonwealth

Progress Made in Limiting Cigarette Sales to Minors

FRANKFORT - Kentucky continues to make progress in limiting retail sales of tobacco to minors, according to a recently released survey from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The 2012 Annual Synar Buying Survey of Kentucky retail tobacco outlets showed that 94.4 percent of retailers complied with the law barring tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 18. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control conducted the survey during the summer to measure the rate of illegal sales of tobacco to Kentucky youths.

The survey was completed in cooperation with the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, according to a state news release.

“Reducing the prevalence of tobacco sales to minors is a crucial piece of our work to prevent youth smoking and tobacco use,” Commissioner of the Department for Public Health Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson said in the news release. “The results of this survey indicate we’re moving in the right direction. Fewer people are dependent on tobacco products because of the work of our substance abuse program, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Department of Agriculture and the Office of Drug Control Policy.”

Since the inception of the federal Synar program in 1997, Kentucky Synar retail violation rates have been consistently below the national rates. The national average for all years (1997-2012) is 15.8 percent, compared with 9.5 percent for Kentucky. While Kentucky’s retail violation rates have greatly improved, young people still report that it is easy to obtain tobacco products from stores and from noncommercial sources such as an older friend, sibling or parent.

Tony Dehner, commissioner for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, emphasized the importance of cooperation in the effort to effectively combat youth access to tobacco products in Kentucky.

“We at ABC consider our role in the annual survey extremely important in the combined effort to reduce youth access to tobacco. Through the checks we conduct, retailers get the message that Kentucky is serious about preventing sales to minors and many make sure to educate their staff on verifying the customer age. The prevention of underage tobacco sales helps to create safer and healthier communities," Dehner said in the news release.

“Kentucky once again has a low rate of noncompliance, which is an important step for us as we continue to reduce youth access to tobacco” Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, said. “Through the efforts of the Regional Prevention Centers, the Division of Behavioral Health, ODCP, and ABC, the health of young Kentuckians is being improved by reducing the illegal use of tobacco products.”