The Roundup -

Local Tobacco Retailers Do Their Part In Preventing Youth Access!


Reward and Reminder is a non-punitive tobacco compliance check program designed to ensure tobacco retailers are abiding by Montana law that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors. The most recent checks completed yielded a 100% passing rate! Retailer compliance is very important in helping reduce youth access to tobacco, and demonstrates the strong commitment by the community to help protect our youth.

As per Montana Code Annotated 16-11-309, The Department of Public Health and Human Services shall conduct inspections of persons selling tobacco products to determine compliance (with tobacco laws). These surveys are conducted by a trained adult accompanying a trained minor, ages 15 to 17. The minor attempts to purchase a tobacco product while the adult witnesses and reports the inspection transaction.

With the Reward and Reminder Program, surveyed clerks are either given a “reward” card if they pass the compliance check which provides an opportunity at a $100.00 gift certificate drawing. However, if the clerk fails the compliance check they are handed a “reminder” card stating Montana Law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors and explains the potential consequences of illegal sales.

Reward and Reminder checks differ from official State Synar inspections which are conducted by a separate agency or individual. The difference between checks is that the Reward and Reminder program is non-punitive, which means if an illegal tobacco sale is made to the minor, there are no fines associated with the program, as the sale is not actually consummated or the youth never leaves the store with tobacco in hand. Often times, the Reward and Reminder surveys are conducted just prior to official State Synar inspections which are punitive and fines will be issued to retailers who fail these tobacco compliance check.

Tobacco compliance checks are necessary; if Montana fails to maintain an 80% annual compliance rate of not selling tobacco products to minors, the State could potentially lose four to six million dollars in federal funding each year. Currently, Montana has a compliance rate of 96% percent.

Research states that if we can prevent our youth from using tobacco before the age of 18, they are more likely to never start. Each year, more than 1,100 kids start smoking in Montana. Every day four Montanans die prematurely from smoking-related diseases. In addition, annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are $277 million annually. We want to thank our retailers for doing their part in preventing youth access to tobacco.

For more information on Reward and Reminder compliance checks and tobacco sales laws, contact Melissa Kostelecky at District II Alcohol & Drug Program at 433-4097.


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