In the first six months of 2009, Spokane County retailers of tobacco products sold tobacco products to youth fewer times than they did last year, according to compliance tests conducted by the Spokane Regional Health District. The overall compliance rate for the first six months of 2009 was 86%. Selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 violates a Washington State law prohibiting the sale of tobacco to youth.

"We are pleased that most local retailers have a commitment not to sell tobacco to youth," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District, who operates the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. "Since most smokers start as teenagers, it is really important that retailers do not sell tobacco to youth."

Tobacco use among youth in Spokane County and Washington State remains a serious concern because most adult smokers begin their addiction before the age of 18. Of these, nearly one third will die prematurely because of tobacco use. Reducing tobacco addiction begins with controlling youth access.

In the first six months of 2009, there were 72 attempted sales, resulting in 11 sales. Washington State must maintain a compliance rate of at least 80 percent in order to continue receiving block grant funding for alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and treatment programs.

Compliance is tested through a partnership between Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane Teens Against Tobacco, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Trained volunteers from Spokane Teens Against Tobacco perform random compliance tests at tobacco retailers throughout Spokane County.

Washington State law mandates that violations incur fines and other regulatory actions, including suspension of the right to sell tobacco for repeated sales to youth. Violations bring penalties including: Each cashier who sells tobacco to a youth and the retailer must pay a fine to the Washington State Liquor Control Board. For a first offense, each cashier is fined $50, but may be offered additional education in lieu of the fine. Each store must pay a $100 penalty. Second violations bring a $300 fine. Third violations warrant the suspension of the retailer's tobacco selling license and $1000 fine.   

Conducting compliance tests is one component of the Spokane Regional Health District's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Current priorities include youth and adult cessation, enforcement of the Clean Indoor Air Act and reducing youth access to tobacco products.

Retailers who sold tobacco to youth during recent compliance checks:




Albertson's #233 Store
1617 NW Blvd

Albertson's Express (2 sales)
1621 NW Blvd

Albertson's # 265 Fuel
6616 N Nevada

Empire Food
5434 N Nevada ST

West Plains Conoco    
11980 W Sunset HWY
Airway Heights

Riverfront Travel Mart
9148 W Airport Way

Safeway #342    (1)
1616 NW Blvd

Super C Store  
1809 N Ash

7-11
3409 N. Argonne

More information about the Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs is available by contacting the Spokane Regional Health District at (509) 324-1553, or visiting www.srhd.org.