Michigan stores do their part to protect youth from dangers of tobacco; for 17th consecutive year, state's retailers meet federal requirements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 9, 2017                                                     

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112                                                                                       

LANSING, Mich. – In statewide inspections, 89.3 percent of retailers refrained from selling tobacco to minors under age 18, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced.

This is the 17th consecutive year Michigan vendors have complied with the federal minimum rate of 80 percent. The 2017 rate represents a 2.8 percentage-point improvement from last year, the MDHHS Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care said.

“Deterring tobacco sales to youth is critical to reducing the negative health effects and deaths caused by smoking and tobacco use,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “We commend the business community for doing their part to protect Michigan youth from the dangers of smoking, and thank our affiliate partners for conducting high quality inspections.”

The Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act, which includes an amendment aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco, requires all states and territories to conduct inspections using a scientific random sample study protocol approved by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. States must demonstrate that their tobacco vendor compliance rate meets or exceeds the federal minimum of 80 percent through random, unannounced inspections of tobacco retailers.

During the summer of 2017, MDHHS conducted random unannounced inspections statewide to measure the rate of illegal sales of tobacco to Michigan youth. A youth inspector visits the retailer, attempts to make a tobacco purchase, and records the results. An adult chaperone drives the youth inspectors and oversees the purchase attempts.

The amendment requires that states enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under age 18. States that fall below the 80 percent minimum compliance rate are subject to a penalty of 40 percent from their federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding. For Michigan, this could mean more than $22 million.

With the popularity of electronic nicotine devices, Michigan is strengthening tobacco education and awareness through a resource website called “Do Your Part,” which is designed to educate the general public and teens about the dangers of smoking.

Additionally, MDHHS is continuing outreach by providing educational materials to all vendors that sell tobacco products. Businesses that want to educate staff, avoid fines and safeguard public health can access a free online certification test and PowerPoint presentation.

To learn more about the Do Your Part campaign, visit www.michigan.gov/doyourpart. The free online presentation and certification is available at www.improvingmipractices.org.

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