Tobacco Sales to Minors Generally Down, Sting Results Indicate

Stores in Goleta, Unincorporated Areas Sold to Underage Decoys Less Often

Undercover sales of tobacco to minors are down in Goleta and unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, but up in the city of Santa Barbara, according to a September 9 press release from the county’s Public Health Department. In addition, no undercover tobacco sales to minors occurred in Solvang or Lompoc.

According to the press release, the undercover operations are conducted by 15- or 16-year-old decoys collaborating with police officers. The stores who sell tobacco products could face a 30-day suspension of their licenses to sell such goods.

This year, 24 percent of outlets visited in Carpinteria sold tobacco to the underage decoys, the highest percentage of all areas tested. Eighteen percent of applicable Santa Barbara city stores sold to the youths, as did 17 percent in Buellton, 14 percent in Guadalupe, and 13 percent in Santa Maria.

Thirteen percent of Goleta stores tested by the Public Health Department sold to the youths, down from 19 percent last year, and the statistics for tobacco sales to minors in unincorporated areas of the county also dropped, from 15 percent last year to 10 percent in 2008. However, 18 percent of the retail outlets visited in the City of Santa Barbara sold tobacco illegally to the minors, up slightly from 16 percent from last year.

Statistical comparison data from last year is not available for the other cities, the press release said, because those areas were not “shopped” in 2007.

Devon Claire Flannery is an Independent intern.

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