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Kitsap leads state in rate of tobacco sales to minors

blog.tobaccoKitsap County store clerks led the state last year in their willingness to illegally sell cigarettes to minors.

That’s according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Health. The annual Synar Report uses unannounced compliance checks to track illegal tobacco sales. During the checks, underage teens, working with law enforcement, attempt to buy cigarettes from randomly-selected retailers.

The Liquor Control Board carried out 28 random checks in Kitsap last year. Nearly 40 percent of the checks resulted in illegal sales to minors. That figure eclipsed the statewide average of 15 percent and landed Kitsap atop the list of worst offenders for the year. (Click on the graphic to expand).

DOH spokesman Tim Church cautioned that the small sample size means sales at a few stores can sway the numbers from year to year. Local health agencies should use the data to identify compliance trends over time, he said.

The trend in Kitsap isn’t encouraging. The county’s compliance rate steadily worsened since 2010, when about 9 percent of random checks resulted in sales.

“It’s bad news for Kitsap County for sure,” Kitsap Public Health District Administrator Scott Daniels said. “It’s bad news for health of the kids who buy tobacco, it’s bad for the whole community.” Continue reading