Hoosier teens are finding it harder to purchase tobacco products. Tobacco sales to Indiana minors in annual inspections hit an all-time low last year. Only about 4 percent of retailers were found to have sold tobacco to minors during more than 8,000 inspections. That’s compared to about 40 percent of retailers found in violation in 2000 when inspections began. The inspections are made possible through the “trip” program, a joint venture of the Indiana prevention resource center at IU Bloomington and the Indiana State Excise Police. Trip operations coordinator Aaron Jones says inspections are conducted statewide.
“We do have the state divided into thirteen districts by county and we have an officer in each district that has youth to go out with them so they travel around and do inspections in different spots,” said Jones.
The 2010 inspection results by tobacco type sold to youth continue to be similar to those from 2009. The youth request cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or cigars during each inspection. Cigars were asked for the least, but had the highest sales rate. In Indiana, it is illegal for a clerk or a retail establishment to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.