According to a report from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, 12 percent of all area retailers sold cigarettes to underage decoys, more than double the California average of 5.4 percent.
Goleta stores accounted for most of the underage sales in the county with an astonishingly high rate of 39 percent, followed by Solvang at 29 percent, Guadalupe at 29 percent, Carpinteria at 26 percent, Buellton at 17 percent, the unincorporated areas at 13 percent, and Santa Barbara at 9 percent.
Goleta, Carpinteria, and Guadalupe all registered their highest rates recorded in the last five years, while Solvang and Buellton rates increased significantly from previous years. Santa Maria continued to exhibit strict adherence to the age limit with only 3 percent of illegal sales, while Lompoc showed the most improvement, down to 3 percent from 31 percent last year.
The unincorporated areas also improved from 18 percent last year to 13 percent this year. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors strengthened the punishments for selling tobacco to minors in the unincorporated areas, and county cities have expressed interest in using similar penalties.
Dawn Dunn, program administrator of the County Tobacco Prevention Settlement Program, said that while there is room for improvement, they are pleased to see the rates in the unincorporated areas go down since the stricter penalties have been in place. Dunn added that the program will continue to educate retailers in the county about the importance of checking IDs and not selling to minors.
There will be free Board of Equalization training on September 6, 2012. Tobacco retailers interested in attending can find more information by calling (805) 681-5407.