In 2011, the rate of sales of tobacco to minors in Fond du Lac County was 10 percent, in compliance with the Federal Synar regulation which requires states to maintain a youth access rate of less than 20 percent. This is part of a comprehensive approach to preventing youth access to tobacco, said Sandy Bernier, Fond du Lac County Tobacco Control program coordinator, in a press release. The rate for 2011 is half of the rate from 2010.
Julie Jorgensen, assistant Tobacco Control program coordinator, said, “Progress is being made. However, if 10 out of every 100 youth who attempt to purchase tobacco are successful, this means that these minors who are someone’s son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, sister, and/or brother may start a lifetime addiction. It would be great if we can cut this percentage in half again in 2012.”
Twenty-two percent of the sales in 2011 occurred in taverns. By law, taverns need to be included in tobacco compliance checks and minors are allowed to enter in order to make a purchase attempt during a compliance check. In 2011, 55 percent of the sales occurred after the employee asked for and looked at the youth’s ID. Forty-five percent of the 2011 sales occurred when the employee did not ask to see an ID.
According to Food and Drug Administration regulations that went into effect in 2010, tobacco vending machines can only be in facilities where persons under age 18 are not permitted to enter at any time.
Since in Wisconsin minors are allowed to enter a tavern if accompanied by a parent, bars or other facilities that have tobacco vending machines where minors can enter are not in compliance with FDA regulations.
“Each year we schedule tobacco retailer compliance checks,” Bernier said. “We cover all of Fond du Lac County. It is the responsibility of employers to make sure they are complying with state and federal regulations that address placement of tobacco and to make sure their employees are trained in accurately identifying the age of the person making a tobacco purchase.
FDA regulations require cigarettes to be behind the counter. Tobacco retailers who have cigarettes in self-serve displays are not in compliance.
“I encourage businesses to review the FDA regulations and make sure they are in compliance, as violators will be reported,” Bernier said.