Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

Underage Tobacco Sales Down 18% in Wisconsin

Little cigars and smokeless tobacco are the most sold items

By - Dec 17th, 2018 11:30 am

Underage tobacco sales in Wisconsin fell from 7.1% in 2017 to 5.8% in 2018, according to the Federal Synar Survey, which measures how frequently tobacco retailers sell to minors. The dip in underage sales reverses the upward trend in tobacco sales to minors in recent years.

“Retailers are our partners in the effort to prevent tobacco sales to minors, and we applaud their efforts to help protect children’s health, said Karen McKeown, State Health Officer. “We’re encouraged to see the sales numbers going in the right direction.”

Free training to help prevent underage tobacco sales is available at WITobaccoCheck.org. At the site, retailers and their employees can familiarize themselves with Wisconsin tobacco sales law and get tips for avoiding underage sales. The site includes study guides and a quiz for tobacco retail employees. When employees pass the quiz, retailers receive a certificate verifying participation in the training. Around 6,700 retail employees received training through the site in 2018.

According to the Synar Survey, the three tobacco products sold most often to youth were little cigars and cigarillos (7.4%), smokeless tobacco (6.7%), and e-cigarettes (5.1%), all of which come in candy and fruit flavors. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that eight of 10 youth tobacco users started with a flavored product. DHS launched the Tobacco is Changing campaign in late 2017 to inform parents about brightly packaged, candy-flavored tobacco products targeted to appeal to children.

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