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Tobacco Sales to California Minors at All-time Low

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Supermarkets led the list of retailers with low rates of illegal tobacco sales to minors in California, according to a survey just released by the state.

Illegal sales of tobacco overall in California are at their lowest level since the state first began monitoring 10 years ago, state officials here said yesterday.

Officials said results from the state's 2005 Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey show that illegal statewide sales of tobacco to minors are at 10.2 percent -- down from 14 percent in 2004, and compared to 37 percent in 1995 when the survey was first conducted.

Retailers with the lowest rates of illegal sales in 2005 were supermarkets at 8.5 percent, tobacco-only stores at 7.3 percent, convenience stores that sell gasoline at 6.5 percent, and pharmacies at 2.4 percent.

Retailers with the highest illegal sales rates were discount/gift stores at 21.6 percent, doughnut shops at 20.6 percent, and deli/meat markets at 18.5 percent.

"California's comprehensive tobacco education campaign, as well as local and state tobacco retailer licensing laws, have led to the majority of California retailers upholding the law and not selling tobacco to minors," State Health Director Sandra Shewry said.

The California Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act requires tobacco retailers post a STAKE Act warning sign at each point-of-sale stating that selling tobacco to persons under 18 years of age is illegal and subject to penalties. The act also mandates compliance checks of tobacco retailers and imposes fines on retailers who break the law.

Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that broadens the STAKE Act by prohibiting the sale of tobacco-related products by self-service display.
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