The percentage of businesses that sold tobacco to minors during compliance checks dropped from 14 percent in 2011 to 7.6 percent in 2012. The compliance checks are conducted by the Lincoln Police Department (LPD) and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) using youth volunteers. Of the 367 attempts by minors to purchase tobacco products, 28 resulted in a sale.
Brian Baker, Public Health Educator for LLCHD, said national research indicates that when communities consistently conduct compliance checks and keep the sale rate below 10 percent, children in those communities are less likely to use tobacco products.
"According to the Lancaster County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, youth who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days decreased from 17.6 percent in 2009 to 16.4 percent in 2011," Baker said. "While youth tobacco use is on a downward trend, the goal is that all youth avoid tobacco use."
"The partnership with the Health Department allows us to monitor illegal tobacco sales to minors and ensure that retail clerks making illegal transactions are held accountable," said LPD Captain Joy Citta.
Tobacco Free Lancaster County is a joint effort that focuses on keeping youth from starting to use tobacco, reducing access to tobacco products, and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke. It is funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program as a result of the tobacco master settlement agreement.
The following three locations had more than one sale of tobacco to a minor during 2012:
Other Lincoln retailers that sold tobacco products to minors in 2012 are:
More information on LLCHD's tobacco education and prevention efforts is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: health). Click on "Health Promotion and Outreach."