Washtenaw County: 40% of retailers sold tobacco products to underage youth in 2022

Woman smoking with electronic cigarette; today.com (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ANN ARBOR – As tobacco companies continue to manufacture products that appeal to young people, many retailers are selling the addictive products to underage kids, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department.

The Health Department found that an average of 40% of checked retailers failed to comply with FDA rules and sold products to underage youth in 2022.

In Ann Arbor, 40% of retailers sold tobacco products to underage individuals while in Ypsilanti that number rose to 53%. In surrounding communities like Dexter, Milan, Chelsea, Saline and Whitmore Lake, 29% of retailers were found to have sold the products to those not of legal purchasing age.

The majority of these retailers were issued warning letters, said WCHD.

According to a survey conducted by Compass Strategies in August, 79% of residents in Washtenaw County are concerned about the use of tobacco products among young people.

“Tobacco retailers are not required to have a license in Michigan, making enforcement of the sales age nearly impossible,” reads a Health Department release. “A comprehensive tobacco retail license program would reduce sales to anyone under 21 and reduce youth initiation by holding license holders, not the purchaser or non-management employee, accountable.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.