Partnerships, Health campaign help retailers to step up compliance with State
(December 16, 2015) – Using public-private partnership to safeguard the
health of its children, the State of Maryland has helped reduce by 56 percent
so far this fiscal year the number of retailers who have attempted to illegally
sell tobacco products to minors. As a result of this year’s partnership,
Maryland’s noncompliance rate for Federal Fiscal Year 2016 has fallen to below
Each state is
required to conduct annual random compliance checks of retailers to ensure they
are complying with the law. After years of compliance with this standard, Department
of Health and Mental Hygiene inspections found, Maryland retailers were noncompliant,
with sales thresholds in Federal Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 respectively near
25 percent and to more than 30 percent.
In spring 2015, Maryland’s health department developed a comprehensive strategy
to ensure that youth access to tobacco products from retail environments was
swiftly addressed. The department also executed a marketing blitz that included
billboards, social media posts, broadcast media ads, and educational packets
and materials that were sent to retailers.
in illegal tobacco sales to Maryland’s youth could not have been done without a
partnership between the State and the retail community,” said Gov. Larry Hogan.
“We know most smokers start when they are underage. This partnership is
literally an investment in Maryland’s future.”
“The success in achieving such a significant
reduction was a team effort,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Van T. Mitchell.
“I would like to thank my staff, local health departments, community-based
organizations, tobacco retailers and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot in collaborating
to achieve this accomplishment for Maryland’s children.”
“Health and Mental Hygiene’s and the
Comptroller’s unprecedented outreach to the retail community has proven to be
successful,” said Ellen Valentino, Executive Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic
Petroleum Distributors Association, the retail organization representing
convenience stores and service stations. “The public-private collaboration that
encompassed educating retailers, parents and teens was the right direction and
has resulted in this great news.”
According to fall 2014 Health and Mental Hygiene surveys
of high school youth, just 8.7 percent of public high school youth reported
smoking cigarettes during the previous 30 days. In contrast, however, 20
percent reported using electronic aerosolized products (e.g., electronic
cigarettes, “vapes”, etc.) during the previous 30 days. These products are also
illegal to sell to adolescents less than 18 years old.
A 2014 survey found that nearly two-thirds of
Maryland adults who had ever smoked a whole cigarette began as adolescents. Of
those who smoked their first whole cigarette before 18 years of age, nearly
three-quarters went on to become regular cigarette smokers. The younger
adolescents start smoking, the more likely it is that they will become addicted
to nicotine, and the more strongly they become addicted. In Maryland alone, an
excess of $3.5 billion annually is required to treat tobacco-related illness.
For more than 20 years, federal and state laws
have prohibited retailers from selling or giving cigarettes or any other
tobacco product to minors less than 18 years of age. Retailer compliance with
existing federal and state prohibitions on the sale of cigarettes and other
tobacco products to underage adolescents is a critical element in Maryland’s
strategy to reduce consumption of tobacco products, leading to a decrease in
underage smoking and the overall use of tobacco products.
In a series of
subsequent random inspections conducted May 2014 through September 2014, 31.9
percent of retailers sold cigarettes to underage youth, with rates in one
jurisdiction as high as 54.7 percent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
similarly found 23.8 percent of retailers across Maryland had sold tobacco to
minors during that time period.
The U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention list smoking-related illnesses – which
include various cancers and heart- and lung-related conditions – at http://goo.gl/rgQlPo. Anyone who could use free
help in quitting their tobacco habit is urged to contact the Maryland Tobacco
Quitline by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or by visiting http://smokingstopshere.com.
Retailer Violation Rates by County and Penalties FY2012to2016.pdf
201 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-2399
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