Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Teen access to tobacco continues to decline in Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A partnership among the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, the Indiana State Excise Police, Indiana retailers and the Indiana Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program is working successfully to keep tobacco products out of the hands of Indiana youth.
Recent data released by TRIP indicated that the sale of tobacco products to minors has decreased for the fifth year in a row. The data showed a non-compliance rate of 13.1 percent for 2004 for retail outlets that sold tobacco products to minors. TRIP officers conducted 7,725 inspections in 2004, which resulted in 1,011 violations. When the program began in 2000, the statewide non-compliance rate was 40.9 percent, a number that has steadily declined each year.
The Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program's primary objective is to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors through systematic monitoring and random inspections of tobacco retail outlets throughout Indiana. It is illegal for youth under the age of 18 to purchase tobacco products in every state.
To enforce Indiana codes, TRIP contracts with off-duty police officers through the Indiana State Excise Police and teams of young people, ages 15-17, with adult monitors. The codes assign progressive penalties for retailers and retail employees who sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. Fines also are assigned to retailers who fail to post mandatory signage regarding tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 18. Penalties range from $50 to $500 depending on the number of infractions committed.
In 2004, for the first time, TRIP recognized outstanding retailers for their contribution in improving or maintaining a low non-compliance rate. Retail employees also were honored with the "I didn't sell" pin reward program, after passing the unannounced inspection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes tobacco as one of the six modifiable behaviors established in youth and adolescence that contributes to the most illness and premature death in the United States. Currently, CDC reports an estimated 6.4 million children may die prematurely from a smoking-related disease. Statistics show that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and that smoking kills an estimated 440,000 Americans each year.
For more information, visit the TRIP Web site at http://www.trip.indiana.edu. Along with other information at that site is the Indiana State Excise Police hotline, 1-866-2STOPEM, to report a vendor suspected of selling tobacco products to minors.
The Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program is supported by the Master Tobacco Settlement fund through the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency. TRIP is administered through the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and the Department of Applied Health Science.