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Michigan health officials: 10% of retailers sell tobacco to minors

MDHHS says state is in compliance with federal standards

In statewide inspections, 89.5 percent of retailers refused to sell tobacco to minors under age 18, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care announced Nov. 5, 2019. (Pixlr)

About 10 percent of Michigan retailers inspected this summer sold tobacco to minors, according to a report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

The health department said it conducted random, unannounced inspections over the summer. A total of 356 retailers were visited, and 319 of them refused to sell tobacco to a minor (anyone under the age of 18). That means 89.5 percent of them did not sell to minors.

“Deterring tobacco sales to youth is critical to reducing the negative health effects and deaths caused by smoking and tobacco use,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “We commend the business community for doing their part to protect Michigan youth from the dangers of smoking and thank our partners for conducting high quality inspections.

According to MDHHS, states must demonstrate their tobacco vendor compliance rate meets or exceeds the federal minimum of 80 percent through random, unannounced inspections of tobacco retailers.

“This includes youth inspectors visiting retailers, attempting to make tobacco purchases and recording the results,” reads a statement from MDHHS. “Adult chaperones drive the youth inspectors and oversee the purchase attempts.”

States that fall below the 80 percent minimum compliance rate are subject to a penalty of 40 percent of their federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding. For Michigan, this could mean more than $22 million, according to the MDHHS.

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