TOBACCO: Illegal Sales to Minors on the Rise
Tobacco sales to underage youths is up almost 30%, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The California Department of Health Services randomly surveyed 455 retailers and found 17% had sold tobacco products to minors, up from 13% in 1998. The survey, which ends a four-year downward trend, concerns health officials. State Health Director Diana Bonta said, "The resurgence in illegal sales is disturbing because the ramifications are staggering. Every day in California nearly 300 children become addicted to tobacco. One-third of them will die prematurely from their addiction." The worst offenders were gas stations, where 32% made such illegal sales. That figure is up 57% from 1998. Illegal sales at supermarkets from 5% in 1998 to 17% in 1999. One in five small convenience stores sold products to minors, up 39% from 1998. The number of stores displaying warning signs against sales to minors dropped 10% from three years ago. Only 68% displayed such warnings. Further, only 2% of clerks asked for age identification and of those who did break the law, 95% did not ask for any identification (4/19). Ken August, spokesperson for the state DHS, said, "These results are a reminder that our efforts to prevent illegal sales to children must be vigilant" (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.