Dane County Vendors Cut Underage Tobacco Sales
When a store clerk in Dane County sells tobacco to a minor, the clerk and the owner of the store (the tobacco license holder) are subject to a citation and a fine, which can be up to $500 plus court costs for repeated violations. The license holder could also face a license suspension of up to thirty days, which would effectively shut down all tobacco sales at that location.
According to a report issued by the Department of Public Health for Madison and Dane County, the rate of violations in 2008 dropped to 7.4%, a 37% decrease from the 2007 sales rate of 11.7%. This means that 92.6% of the time an underage youth could not purchase tobacco.
The data was based on a total of 788 inspections carried out in Dane County. These inspections revealed 58 sales to minors, a decrease from the 88 sales in 2007.
"We're happy to see that the majority of vendors in Madison and Dane County aren't selling tobacco to minors," said Ryan Sheahan, Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition Coordinator. "However, even with this relatively high rate of compliance there are still too many vendors that aren't asking for ID when selling tobacco products".
Public Health regularly inspects establishments that sell tobacco as part of Wisconsin Wins, a program that aims to reduce illegal sales of tobacco to young people.
Last year, a resource was made available designed to help vendors stay in compliance called Smoke Check. This program through its website www.smokecheck.org provides the vendor with an online tobacco vendor education program. The program provides a short test for both the license holder and the store employee that promotes proper compliance. According to Lyle Burmeister, Wins Program Coordinator, "Smoke Check is a tool that allows those responsible for selling tobacco to educate themselves about what to do when approached by a young person asking for a tobacco product. We encourage all vendors to take this quick and easy education program."