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Michigan Vendors Working to Protect Youth Under 18 from Tobacco

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 7, 2011

LANSING - Results from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services (BSAAS) annual statewide survey indicate that 85.1 percent of retailers did not sell tobacco products to youth under the age of 18 during 2011. This is the fifth consecutive year in which Michigan vendors have been in compliance with the federal minimum rate of 80 percent.

"Thanks to the efforts of retailers, substance abuse coordinating agencies, designated youth tobacco use representatives, and state and local law enforcement, Michigan has once again proven that we are committed to keeping our youth safe from the harms of tobacco use," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the MDCH. "By proactively addressing tobacco sales to minors, we can drastically reduce addiction, respiratory illnesses, some cancers, and ultimately death caused by smoking."

All states and territories must conduct the survey using a scientific random sample study protocol, approved by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. States also must demonstrate that its tobacco vendor compliance meets or exceeds the federal minimum compliance rate of 80 percent.

During the summer of 2011, BSAAS conducted a statewide Annual Synar Buying Survey, with a random sample of 624 out of 9,775 establishments, to measure the rate of illegal sales of tobacco to Michigan youth. The survey involves visiting randomly selected outlets that sell tobacco products, either over-the-counter or through vending machines. A youth inspector will enter the outlet, attempt to make a tobacco purchase, and record the results. An adult chaperone drives the youth inspectors and oversees the purchase attempts.

States that fall below the 80 percent minimum compliance rate are subject to a penalty of 40 percent from their federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding. For Michigan, this could be more than $23 million.

BSAAS, in collaboration with the MDCH Tobacco Section and statewide partners, provides education and sales compliance enforcement. If youth access to tobacco products is restricted, fewer will become addicted or harmed by the effects of smoking. The business community and statewide partners are to be commended for not selling to minors, and for conducting high quality inspections.

For more information on the BSAAS, visit www.michigan.gov/bhrecovery.

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