In statewide inspections, a record 89.9 percent of retailers refused to sell tobacco to minors under age 18, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care announced today.
Throughout the summer, MDHHS conducted random unannounced inspections statewide to measure the rate of illegal sales of tobacco to Michigan youth. A total of 353 retailers were visited; of those, 318 refused to sell tobacco to a minor.
“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 partners for conducting high quality inspections.
The Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act 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 their tobacco vendor compliance rate meets or exceeds the federal minimum of 80 percent through random, unannounced inspections of tobacco retailers. This includes youth inspectors visiting retailers, attempting to make tobacco purchases and recording the results. Adult chaperones drive the youth inspectors and oversee the purchase attempts.
This is the 18th consecutive year Michigan vendors have successfully met the federal minimum compliance rate, and the 2018 result marks the highest rate ever recorded by the state.
States that fall below the 80 percent minimum compliance rate are subject to a penalty of 40 percent of their federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding. For Michigan, this could mean more than $22 million.
States are also required to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under age 18. With the popularity of electronic nicotine devices, Michigan is strengthening tobacco education and awareness through a resource website called “Do Your Part,” designed to educate the general public and teens about the dangers of smoking.
Additionally, MDHHS is continuing outreach by providing educational materials to vendors that sell tobacco products. Businesses that want to educate staff, avoid fines and safeguard public health can access a free online presentation and certification test.