Selling Tobacco Products To Minors

Wednesday, February 7th 2007, 5:45 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Fewer retailers sold tobacco products to teenagers last year, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse reports.

According to statistics released this week by the agency, 8 percent of retailers sold tobacco to undercover minors during state-funded sting operations in 2006.

That rate declined slightly from 2005 but is considerably lower than in years past. In 1997, almost half of stores sold tobacco to minors, while more than 1 in 5 made illegal sales in 2002.

The findings represent a ``massive change,'' said Marta Patton, deputy director of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, or ABLE.

The findings are an indication that retailers are starting to care more about public health and are more fearful of law enforcement efforts to curb sales to minors, Patton said.

``We're just becoming mainstream and taking the necessary steps to make us a healthy place to live,'' she said.

The state is required to make yearly checks of stores to see if they will sell tobacco products to people younger than 18 years of age.