CHFS: E-cigarettes account for highest percentage of tobacco product sales to minors

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)The 2019 Annual Synar Inspection of Kentucky retail tobacco outlets showed 90.3 percent of retailers complied with the law barring tobacco and electronic nicotine device sales to anyone under the age of 18, according to a new report from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

The Synar survey was completed in cooperation with the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (BHDID), as part of its federal block grant requirement. Tobacco products included in the survey are: cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.  Of the three product categories e-cigarettes had the highest percentage of violations; 14.3 percent compared to 10.6 percent for smokeless tobacco and 8 percent for cigarettes.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control conducted the survey this past summer.

In 2004, 34 percent of 10th graders reported smoking at age twelve or younger, according to BHDID’s Kentucky Incentives for Prevention school survey data. That figure has now dropped to 11.8 percent.

Since the inception of the federal Synar program in 1997, Kentucky Synar retail violation rates have been consistently below the national rates. The national average for all years available is 15.8 percent as compared to 9.5 percent for Kentucky. While Kentucky’s retail violation rates have greatly improved, youth still report that it is easy to obtain tobacco products from stores and from non-commercial sources such as an older friend, sibling or parent.

JUUL, a brand of e-cigarette designed to look exactly like a USB drive, accounts for 70 percent of all e-cigarette sales in the U.S. and has become the nicotine delivery system of choice among underage youth.

The report says reducing tobacco use among youth may also affect later opioid use among adults. Recent data analysis found that Kentucky middle and high school students who report they began the use of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana before the age of 12 are at a 12.6 times greater risk of using opioids before the age of 17. Across the United States, similar analysis has found that those who used these substances before the age of 17 are 8 times more likely to use opioids before the age of 34.

Federal law authorizes the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant and requires states to enact and enforce laws designed to reduce the availability of tobacco products to people younger than 18. The state must conduct the Annual Buying Survey using a scientific random sample study protocol approved by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and must demonstrate that its non-compliance rate does not exceed the target of 20 percent for illegal tobacco sales to minors. The SAPT Block Grant, administered by CHFS, is the single largest funding stream in Kentucky supporting substance abuse prevention and treatment.

To see a copy of Kentucky’s 2018 Synar Report please visit:

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