Baton Rouge –A 2004 report on tobacco sales to minors reveals Louisiana
Regional Noncompliance Rates
Region I (New Orleans):
Region II (Baton Rouge):
Region III (Thibodaux/Houma):
Region IV (Lafayette):
Region V (Lake Charles):
Region VI (Alexandria):
Region VII (Shreveport):
Region VIII (Monroe):
Region IX (Mandeville):
Region X (Jefferson Parish):
“The success we have had with our tobacco control program is indicative of the types of success we hope to see in all our health programs,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “Not only did we meet our mandated expectation to lower the rate of tobacco sales to minors, we lowered the rate more than expected and did so in a shorter time span than expected.”
Legislation passed in 1992 aimed at preventing minors from purchasing and having access to tobacco products, since data suggest a correlation between availability and usage. Each state is responsible for developing a system to reduce access through enforcement and unannounced inspections. In order to receive federal funds, states must have a noncompliance ranking no higher than 20 percent.
Louisiana’s noncompliance rate for 2004 was higher than the 5.66 percent noncompliance rate for 2003, but this rise is attributed to a change in outlet testing, not an actual rise in sales to minors. The noncompliance rate measures both tobacco purchases by youth and the youth access rate. The number of youth sales outlets tested dropped from 191 in 2003 to only three in 2004. This process changed because of a new Alcohol and Tobacco Control rule that limits compliance testing to youth-restricted areas where a doorman is present.
LDH Office for Addictive Disorders Assistant Secretary Mike Duffy says the state’s tobacco control program and procedures are an example of how people in Louisiana can overcome stereotypes about the state in order to make progress.
“Can we have change in Louisiana? Yes, we can,” Duffy said. “Through this program, staff have proven it is possible to change the current mindset to make lasting, positive improvements. Louisiana used to be thought of as a state where easy access to tobacco was part of our culture and behavior. Today, we have one of the lowest sales rates to youth in the nation, thanks to our state’s comprehensive tobacco control program.”
In a federal report released in 1997, Louisiana had a noncompliance rate of 71.16 percent, the highest of all states reporting data for that year.
The state developed an initiative to reduce that rate to the federally mandated 20 percent. This is done through enforcement, statewide theme/logo promotion for the program, mass media and mobilizing state agencies and communities to become involved in the program. LDH and the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control work together on the program.
The state met its goal of 20 percent in 1999, then reduced the rate to below 10 percent the following year. Today, Louisiana, which had the highest rates of violation in 1997, became one of three states with the lowest violation rate by 2003. The state has kept its noncompliance rate below 10 percent since 2000.
“This has truly been a united effort between state agencies, the retail tier and the citizens of the state to tackle a problem that was out of control in 1997,” said Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Murphy Painter. “The legislature responded with the passage of the 'Louisiana Tobacco Act' and the Responsible Vendor Program, which gave our office the authority and budget to enforce the laws regarding underage access. The way that everyone from all agencies has worked together is a text book case of what can be done with everyone on the same page.”
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