Tobacco sales to minors decreasing in Indiana

Tobacco sales to minors in Indiana reached an all-time low last year, according to a report released Monday by the Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program, known as TRIP.

Store clerks sold tobacco products to those 17 and under 3.8 percent of the time during more than 8,400 inspections in 2010.

TRIP — a joint venture by the Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington and the Indiana State Excise Police — began inspections in 2000. At the time, 40 percent of retailers were caught selling tobacco to minors. Since then, sales have decreased every year except one.

“Once again the success of year-round, statewide inspections is clear with the new low in sales,” said Aaron Jones, TRIP operations coordinator, in a press release. “TRIP’s presence across the state is being felt at the retail level, and TRIP officers continue to reach out and educate retailers on responsible tobacco sales.”

Clark and Floyd counties were slightly above the state average in underage sales, as were most surrounding counties. Clark County stores failed one, or 4.8 percent, of 21 inspections, while Floyd County failed 9.3 percent of 75 inspections, or seven failures.

Clark County’s rate has remained steady the last three years, and before that, there had been no inspections since 2005, when 22.7 percent of stores were noncompliant. Floyd County only had two inspections since 2005, when its noncompliance rate was 18.5 percent.

The state is divided into 13 districts, each with a police officer, adult assistant and youth assistant. During the inspections, an under-18 teenager enters the store under the observation of an adult and attempts to purchase a tobacco product, usually cigarettes but sometimes smokeless tobacco or cigars. The teenager does not carry identification and never lies to the clerk, according to the press release.

If the youth makes a successful purchase, a notice of violation is issued to the clerk and the store. Fines range from $200 to $1,000, depending on the number of previous violations.

Cigars were asked for the least statewide but had the highest rate of sale, about 5.6 percent. Cigarettes were sold to youths 2.7 percent of the time.

In Indiana, a person has to be 18 or older to legally buy tobacco products.

source: www.newsandtribune.com

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