County cigarette sales to youth more than state average
Nevada County merchants are surpassing state averages when it comes to selling tobacco to underage teens, according to local and statewide studies.A survey conducted by the Nevada County Health Department’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program found that 37 percent of county merchants are breaking the ban on tobacco sales to minors. In California, that number sits at 10 percent, according to a random check of 714 businesses by the state Department of Health Services.”These surveys are done to help merchants,” said Lisa Sterner, the program manager of prevention services at the Nevada County Health Department. “There are no fines or penalties associated with the survey, and merchants have been very cooperative and committed to improving.”Minors trained through the county’s prevention program attempted to purchase tobacco in 46 stores and were successful in 17.Truckee had a lower sales rate than other areas in the county, with 22 percent of merchants selling to minors.Nevada County Health Department officials are considering enforcing tobacco sales laws with penalties for noncompliant merchants with a new tobacco retail licensing policy that would work like liquor licensing, said Sterner. Merchants that sold tobacco products to minors could risk losing their right to sell, and revenue generated could be directed to programs such as prevention education, Sterner said.- The Associated Press contributed to this report.CHECK IT OUTThere will be a tobacco prevention educational event Aug. 30 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the skate park in Regional Park. Participants who answer tobacco-related questions will be entered in a raffle to win free skateboards.