The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that without aggressive enforcement of tobacco access laws, there will be no decrease in the purchase of tobacco by minors. As a result, enforcement is an important component of the VTSF’s comprehensive youth tobacco use prevention program. The Foundation funds the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to conduct approximately 400 compliance checks per month, where they randomly test tobacco retailers to see if they will sell tobacco products to under-age buyers. Non-compliance rates have fallen from 27% in 1998 to 8.7% in 2006.
ABC regularly reports the results of these compliance checks to the VTSF. Tobacco enforcement initiatives help the VTSF achieve its ultimate mission of reducing youth tobacco use. The non-compliance rates from past years are as follows: 1998: 27%, 1999: 26%, 2000: 24%, 2001: 18%, 2002: 11% 2003: 10.2%, 2004: 13%, 2005: 9.77%, 2006: 8.7%
The Enforcement Process
One ABC special agent accompanies an Under-Age Buyer (UAB) into a tobacco retail establishment. The UAB then attempts to purchase tobacco products from the retailer. ABC UABs can purchase tobacco products from retailers, with immunity, as undercover agents under the enforcement authority of the agency, and are paid part-time state employees. Should a violation occur, the UAB returns to a secondary special agent outside the retail establishment. The secondary special agent now provides for the safety of the UAB. The primary special agent who witnesed the violation issues a state summons to the clerk.