More isle stores sell tobacco to minors
The number of Hawaii retailers that have sold cigarettes to minors has increased slightly over the past few years but is still reasonably low, said Keith Yamamoto, the state Department of Health's alcohol and drug abuse administrator.
Since 2004 the percentage of retailers selling cigarettes to volunteers ages 15 to 17 has risen in the survey conducted by the Health Department.
This year, 13 of 221 retailers, or 5.9 percent, sold cigarettes to minors, according to the survey. In last year's survey, 5.6 percent of the retailers sold cigarettes to minors. In 2004, 5.3 percent sold to minors.
Hawaii's 2004 noncompliance rate was the state's lowest since the inspections started in 1996 and the third lowest in the nation. The federal government has not released the noncompliance rates for all states for 2005 and 2006.
Big Island retailers had the highest rate of noncompliance this year at 9.7 percent, with three of 31 retailers selling cigarettes to minors. On Maui two of 27, or 7.4 percent, sold to minors. On Oahu eight of 151 retailers, or 5.3 percent, sold cigarettes to the teenage volunteers. On Kauai none of the 12 retailers inspected sold cigarettes to minors.
State law prohibits selling or furnishing tobacco products to minors younger than 18. The penalty for violating the law is a $500 fine for a first offense and up to $2,000 for subsequent violations.
Minors who purchase cigarettes illegally are fined $10 for their first offense. Subsequent violations could mean fines of $50 or 48 to 72 hours of community service.