KIDS EASILY ABLE TO BUY FROM MACHINES OR STORES [10/02]


Kids who want to buy cigarettes are able to do so more than 99 times out of every 100 tires when using a vending machine, according to a "sting operation" just conducted in Maryland.

Less than 1 out of every 100 times were they challenged by an adult, even though the sale of cigarette to persons under 18 has been illegal for more than 100 years.

This finding is particularly serious because vending machines are the way the youngest children -- those too small to pass the scrutiny of even the laziest sales clerk -- buy many of their cigarettes.

The sting operation also found that teens were able to buy cigarettes at more than half the stores and other outlets where they had to purchase them from an adult sales person.

The study shows that current methods of attempting to keep cigarettes out of the hands of kids just aren't working, and that the new FDA regulations -- which require that purchasers show ID, just as they do to purchase alcoholic beverages -- are necessary

Here are brief excerpts from an article in today's Washington Post:


Teenagers attempting to buy cigarettes illegally at grocery stores, gas stations and other outlets in Maryland went unchallenged by salesclerks more than half the time, according to a survey conducted this past summer by state authorities.

The survey of 881 retail establishments across Maryland showed that clerks were willing to sell cigarettes to 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds at 54.4 percent of the outlets, despite a 110-year-old law prohibiting tobacco sales to anyone younger than 18.

Eight underage teenagers, hired by the Maryland comptroller's office during a two-week period in July and August, went unchallenged at a whopping 95.5 percent of the 115 outlets where they attempted to buy cigarettes from vending machines. Attempts at over-the-counter purchases were less successful. Clerks at 48.4 percent of 766 stores sampled were willing to sell.

(The teenagers, accompanied by undercover state revenue agents, never completed a transaction but determined only the clerk's willingness to sell and then left the stores.) In 1995, according to officials, 485 minors were cited for attempts to purchase tobacco products. No merchants were cited in 1995, and figures for 1996 were not available yesterday.

In 1995, according to officials, 485 minors were cited for attempts to purchase tobacco products. No merchants were cited in 1995, and figures for 1996 were not available yesterday.


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