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Aaron Jones
Indiana Prevention Resource Center

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Debra Kent
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On a roll: Indiana tobacco sales to minors continue to drop

May 30, 2007

EDITORS: Broadcast media interested in remote on-camera interviews with Aaron Jones, operations coordinator for the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, via fiber optics from IU Bloomington's Enberg Studio, should contact Tracy James, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-0084 and

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tobacco sales to minors in Indiana dropped for the sixth year in a row, according to the latest data from the Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program, a joint venture of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University and the Indiana State Excise Police.

When TRIP first began, 40 percent of retailers sold tobacco to minors. That number has dropped each year and is now down to 10.5 percent.

"The comprehensive approach of TRIP in conducting inspections throughout the entire state has been effective in educating retail outlet owners and clerks that they can take an active role in protecting and promoting the health of the state's youth by not selling them tobacco products," said Aaron Jones, IPRC operations coordinator.

In Indiana it is illegal for a clerk or a retail establishment to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.

Last year TRIP conducted more than 7,400 unannounced inspections of retail outlets across the state. In each of 13 inspection districts, teams comprised of an excise police officer, an adult assistant and a youth assistant visited around 300 stores in their respective districts.

During these inspections, the youth enters the a store under the observation of the adult or officer and attempts to buy a tobacco product -- usually cigarettes, but sometimes chewing tobacco, if it is a popular product in the area, or cigars. If the youth is successful with the purchase, the excise police officer issues a notice of violation to the clerk and to the store. Fines for violations range from $50 to $500 depending on the number of prior violations the store or clerk has received.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day in the U.S. around 4,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke their first cigarette. Each day an estimated 1,140 of the nation's young people become daily cigarette smokers.

"The availability of tobacco products is directly associated with youth tobacco use," Jones said. "TRIP, through compliance checks and education, is actively working to decrease the access points that youth have to tobacco products."

In Indiana, youth continue to use less tobacco. The IPRC's annual Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drug survey of Indiana students shows that since 2000 the monthly use of cigarettes by sixth- through 12th-graders has declined 7.8 percent, to a low of 14.5 percent in 2006.

For more information, visit the TRIP Web site at 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.

TRIP 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 IPRC, which is part of the Department of Applied Health Science in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Jones can be reached at 812-855-3884 and