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Hike In Underage Smoking Sales

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Sonora, CA – A Tuolumne County Health Department survey found a jump in sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to those under the age of 21 in the area.

The county has one of the highest use rates for tobacco in the state, according to health officials that point to a recent survey of use that found nearly half of all county households have at least one smoker and its use is higher in households with children. Those statistics have made educating on the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure a top priority for the department. Conducted every year through its Tobacco Education and  Prevention Program, this year’s survey found that 6 of 20 randomly selected retailers sold to minors.

“It’s the highest we’ve had in a while,” reports health department spokesperson Kristina Herrera, who added, “We typically have zero, so six is not good for us. Six is too many.”

While California laws like Penal Code 308 and the STAKE Act carry penalties for merchants and employees who sell tobacco products or paraphernalia to minors. Herrera indicates that their approach is one of educating retailers, noting, “A lot of it’s due to just clerks maybe not being trained up enough on how to check Id’s appropriately or to even ask for them in the first place.”

Retailers are being notified of the survey results and are given an informational packet containing appropriate signs, training materials, education on the California tobacco laws and the important role retailers play in the prevention of youth having access to tobacco products.