By Daniel Weintraub
Illegal tobacco sales to minors in California reached an all-time low in the most recent survey of retailers by the California Department of Public Health.
Sales to customers under age 18 were completed in just 7.7 percent of 742 transactions attempted, the department said.
That’s down from 8.6 percent last year and 37 percent when the surveys began in 1995.
“The continued decline of illegal sales to minors is very encouraging,” Dr. Mark Horton, the state’s public health director, said in a statement. “Since 3 of 4 adult smokers started using tobacco before they were 18, we know it is critical to limit youth access to illegal sales both for the health of the child as well as their life long use of tobacco products.”
Discount and gift stores were the biggest offenders, with 22.6 percent found to be willing to sell tobacco to minors. Doughnut shops, which sold to minors at a rate of 21.6 percent last year, tightened up considerably, agreeing to sales in only 8.7 percent of cases this year.
Grocery stores, liquor stores, tobacco specialty stores and gas stations sold to minors at a rate of 6.8 percent.
Of 43 drug stores and pharmacies surveyed, none agreed to sell tobacco to a minor.