Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 31, 2012

Tobacco sales to minors in Ky. lower than average

FRANKFORT — Fewer teens in Kentucky are being sold tobacco products than their counterparts nationwide, but youth use of the drug continues to be widespread.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the 2012 Annual Synar Buying Survey of Kentucky retail tobacco outlets showed 94.4 percent of retailers complied with the law barring tobacco sales to anyone under 18.

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.  

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.

“Reducing the prevalence of tobacco sales to minors is a crucial piece of our work to prevent youth smoking and tobacco use,” said Commissioner of the Department for Public Health, Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson. “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.”

While Kentucky’s retail violation rates have greatly improved, youths still report  it is easy to obtain tobacco products from stores and from noncommercial sources such as an older friend, sibling or parent.

Tony Dehner, Kentucky’s 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” Dehner said. “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.”

“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” added Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). “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.”

In fact, some counties report that youth tobacco use has fallen below those of alcohol consumption among youth.

Federal law authorizes the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant and requires states to enact and enforce laws designed to reduce the availability of tobacco products to people younger than 18. The state must conduct the Annual Buying Survey using a scientific random sample study protocol approved by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and must demonstrate that its noncompliance rate does not exceed the target of 20 percent for illegal tobacco sales to minors.

The SAPT Block Grant, administered by CHFS, is the single-largest funding stream in Kentucky supporting substance abuse prevention and treatment.

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