SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The illegal sale of tobacco to minors is down to its lowest rate in California since the data was kept, according to the latest statistics from the state’s Department of Public Health.

“When we started collecting data in 1995 the rate of illegal sales was 37%. Each of the last three years it has gone down and now it is at 5.6%,” said Colleen Stevens, chief of the tobacco control branch of the health department.

Each spring, the health department sends minors into random stores to attempt to buy cigarettes.

Stevens credits awareness, education and the changing of social norms for bringing the percentage down. Interestingly, she said the offenders often aren’t traditional tobacco retailers like convenience stores and liquor marts.

“Where we find problems is in smaller mom and pop stores, delis, gift stores, things like that,” she explained. “They may not have processes in place to educate their employees.”

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Retailers caught selling tobacco to minors are subject to fines as high as $6,000.

“While we’re very pleased,” Stevens said of the latest statistics, “we still have more work to do.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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