Minors have difficult time buying tobaccoBeing above average isn’t always a good thing.
By: Christinia Crippes, The Dickinson Press
DICKINSON - Being above average isn’t always a good thing.
Being above average isn’t always a good thing.
With the 2008 annual Synar Report, though, it’s all relative.
The report demonstrates the results of compliance checks on convenience stores selling tobacco to minors. In 2007, the survey was conducted throughout the summer at randomly selected locations across the state.
“There were 277 attempts, with only 16 sales in the state,” said Bobbie Olson, tobacco prevention and control coordinator at Dickinson’s Southwest District Health Unit.
The results put the state at a 5.8 percent noncompliance rate, which is far below the 20 percent rate which could cause the state to lose almost half of its federal grants.
The results have remained steadily lower than when the report first began in 1996, though there are some spikes from year to year.
While the southwestern region of the state is lower than last year, it still has a noncompliance rate of 9.1 percent.
“No one in our region sold except two places in Dickinson,” Olson said.
Last year, the southwestern region had three successful purchases by minors.
Throughout the month of August, 22 compliance checks were completed in six counties. Billings and Slope counties were not inspected.
The two convenience stores that failed the checks were South Main Amoco and the Farmers Union Oil Co. Olson said, though, usually it has more to do with a lack of training than intentionally ignoring the law.
“We need training so we see where we’re at, where we need to work on or how well they’re doing,” Olson said.
She said the survey also helps the tobacco prevention and control departments across the state determine areas they need to work on for future grants.
Olson said because the sample does not include every convenience store, the noncompliance rate isn’t a full picture.
“It’s not a survey for penalty,” Olson said. “It’s more for education. We’re hoping to just see where each community is at.”
She said many businesses reward the employee who passes the compliance check, and if they fail, they can learn from their mistakes.
Olson said the study does not trap employees into selling tobacco to minors, because the young people dress in their normal attire and if asked, present their actual identification.
The western half of the state had 13 minor purchases last year, and is down to four this year. The eastern half, though, had five last year and 12 this year.
“The eastern side of the state has more population, so they have more tobacco licenses as well,” Olson said.
She said the report seeks to even out the halves by including Minot and Bismarck-Mandan in the western part.
“Overall we do very good region-wide,” Olson said.
She said there are good, conscientious workers in the region, but she is disappointed Dickinson had sales, because it’s the major city in the area. Olson said, though, that is something that can be corrected in the future.