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Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

TRIP: Indiana tobacco sales to minors return to higher 2005 rate

March 19, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Efforts to reduce tobacco sales to minors in Indiana lost ground slightly last year, returning to the 2005 rate of 12.7 percent and ending six consecutive years of reduced sales, according to the latest data from the Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program.

TRIP is a joint venture of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington and the Indiana State Excise Police. When TRIP inspections began in 2000, 40 percent of retailers were found to have sold tobacco to minors.

"TRIP continues to play a positive role in reducing youth access to tobacco. Tobacco retail outlets across the state are aware that inspections are occurring continually and are working with the Indiana State Excise Police to train their clerks correctly to identify youth who legally cannot purchase tobacco," said Aaron Jones, TRIP operations coordinator at the IPRC.

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 6,625 unannounced inspections of retail outlets across the state. In each of 13 inspection districts, teams made up of a police officer, an adult assistant and a youth assistant visited an average of 354 stores in their respective districts.

During TRIP inspections, the youth enters 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.

TRIP's data is reflecting a national trend in the sales of tobacco to youth. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's "2006 Synar Reports -- Youth Tobacco Sales," showed that for the first time, all 50 states were in compliance with a violation rate of less than 20 percent.

Indiana youth continue to report lower use of cigarettes. The IPRC's annual Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs survey of Indiana students shows that since 2000 the monthly use of cigarettes by sixth- through 12th-graders has declined 8.6 percent, to a low of 13.7 percent in 2007.

TRIP is supported by the Master Tobacco Settlement fund through the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency and is administered through the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and the IPRC at the School of HPER and its Department of Applied Health Science. Additional funding for TRIP comes from the FSSA Division of Mental Health and Addiction to cover activities related to federal reporting requirements resulting from the Synar Amendment.

For more information, contact Jones at and 812-855-8263.