Milestone: No Tobacco Products Sold to Minors in Undercover Inspections

For the first time ever, Oakland County retailers did not sell any tobacco products to youth during recent undercover inspections, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced today. The Oakland County Health Division conducted the annual inspection in collaboration with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and local substance abuse coalitions to ensure that tobacco products are not sold to underage youth.

“Our prevention efforts are keeping tobacco out of the hands of our children,” Patterson said. “Not only does it take our partners in the undercover inspections, but also the cooperation of our retailers. Kudos to both for successfully keeping these harmful products away from minors.”

No_tobacco_2014-05-27_14-29The Health Division conducts compliance checks yearly to determine whether retailers are willing to sell tobacco products to minors. These checks are based on the federally-mandated Synar Amendment that requires states to prohibit the sale and distribution of tobacco products to minors and conduct random, unannounced inspections each year. Youth volunteers attempt to purchase tobacco from various gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, bars, and tobacco specialty retail shops.

“Our community coalitions, local law enforcement, and the Health Division should be proud that we lead the state of Michigan in this accomplishment,” said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. “Every day, 3,800 kids smoke a cigarette for the first time, and many of them become regular smokers by age 18. Tobacco use starts primarily during adolescence and ease of access of these products may contribute to initial use.”

Julie Brenner, director of the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, said that local businesses play a significant role in the efforts to keep tobacco away from minors. “Educating retailers to check identification and providing tools for staff training is key to keeping youth tobacco-free,” she said.

In previous years, the Health Division has achieved great success during these undercover inspections with low rates of tobacco sales to minors. For up-to-date public health information, visit or find Public Health Oakland on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.


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