Harrisburg, Pa. — Illegal sales of tobacco products to minors in Pennsylvania have dropped for the seventh consecutive year, according to the state's Department of Health.
"Our inspections show a sustained reduction in the percentage of tobacco products illegally sold to minors, falling from 27.9 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2010," said acting Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila. "This improvement is great news for the children of Pennsylvania because research shows 90 percent of adult smokers started when they were kids."
The results were gathered through random, unannounced inspections of stores selling tobacco products in 2010. States that do not meet the federally established limits risk losing 40 percent of their federal substance abuse prevention and treatment block grants for the following year.
The funds are distributed to counties to pay for drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs.
Since 2002, the department has worked in collaboration with its regional primary contractors and community-based organizations to develop comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs in each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties; conduct on-going enforcement checks; and provide retailer education and youth prevention initiatives.
The Department of Health's anti-tobacco efforts are intended to help individuals to quit—or never start—using tobacco products, and to curb the retail sale of tobacco to minors.
For more information on tobacco prevention, call the Department of Health at 1-877-PA HEALTH, or visit www.health.state.pa.us.