Public health efforts continue to move the needle on reducing smoking rates among youth. And that’s important since 90 percent of adult tobacco users report using tobacco in their teen years.
To achieve this milestone, we’ve been hard at work on three fronts: STAND, our statewide consortium of more than 30 youth coalitions who educate their peers and local policy makers on how to decrease tobacco use; public education through innovative media campaigns; and, the enforcement of illegal sales of tobacco products to minors.
There are currently two dedicated youth tobacco inspection programs operating in Arizona including the FDA Compliance Inspection Program, the Attorney General’s Office Counter Strike Youth Tobacco Program. In fiscal year 2016, 114 youth volunteers between the ages of 14 and 17, and representing every county in Arizona, assisted in youth tobacco enforcement inspections.
The result: with state enforcement providing both surveillance and educational opportunities for first-time retail offenders, and federal enforcement providing stiffer penalties for repeat offenders, the FDA Program had an all-time low fail rate (“buy rate” for minors) of 13.8 percent, while the Counter Strike program had the lowest fail rate since the program began in 2003, at 13.3 percent. As such, both the youth tobacco use rate and illegal tobacco sales to minors are at all-time lows! This is such a great achievement!