Fewer stores sell
tobacco to minors

Star-Bulletin staff

The number of stores in Hawaii that sell tobacco products to minors has declined, according to state Department of Health officials.

Based on a Health Department survey, the percentage of stores that still sell to minors decreased to 6 percent in 2002 from 7.7 percent in 2001.

State law prohibits tobacco sales to people under the age of 18. Merchants convicted of selling tobacco to minors face a mandatory fine of $500.

"This is our seventh annual survey," said Health Director Bruce Anderson. "We have watched the rates of noncompliance drop from 43 percent (in 1996) to 6 percent.

"This is due to an aggressive anti-smoking campaign."

The survey is based on inspections of 249 stores across the state by youth volunteers and adult observers. In Honolulu, of the 168 stores inspected, seven were observed selling tobacco products to minors. In Hawaii County, it was eight out of 32 stores.

In Kauai and Maui counties, none of the stores there were observed selling tobacco to youth volunteers.

The Health Department said it also surveyed how many stores sold tobacco to minors if the youth showed valid identification.

The survey stated that of the 1,229 retail stores visited between May 2001 and March 2002, 17.6 percent of the outlets -- 216 stores -- sold to minors. State officials said this was a decrease from last year's percentage of 26.1 percent.

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