NYACS Applauds New York C-stores for Achieving Record-High Level of Underage Tobacco Sales Prevention

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NYACS Applauds New York C-stores for Achieving Record-High Level of Underage Tobacco Sales Prevention

01/10/2019
New York youth tobacco sales are down

ALBANY, N.Y. — Convenience stores across New York reached a record-high level of underage tobacco sales prevention. However, as the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) noted, there is still more work to be done.

According to the latest report on underage tobacco sales enforcement posted by the New York State Department of Health, during the 12 months ending March 31, 2016, 95.8 percent of stores declined to sell tobacco to undercover minors working with health inspectors. It was the highest compliance rate since the inspection program began in 1998.

To read the full report, click here.

"Twenty years ago, nearly one in five of these stings resulted in a sale to a minor," said NYACS President Jim Calvin. "Today, the failure rate is less than one in 20. That's terrific progress. But even one underage sale is too many, so retailers must remain highly vigilant every minute of every day."

The report highlights the accomplishments of the state's Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA), which requires retailers to verify the age of tobacco purchasers in order to prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products.

A first violation can cost a store a $300 to $1,000 fine. A second brings a fine of $500 to $1,500 plus possible suspension of the store's tobacco and lottery licenses for six months.

Calvin attributed the improvement in underage sales prevention to two main factors:

  1. Diligent ATUPA enforcement by state and local health departments; and
  2. Voluntary, good-faith steps taken by responsible retailers to prevent underage sales.

"Our members have adopted strict ID policies, trained and re-trained their employees, deployed 'We Card' signage and calendars, even had employees sign affidavits acknowledging their age-verification responsibilities," Calvin said. "In some cases, they hire an outside company to do simulated compliance checks, to detect any weakness in their execution. Some program their cash registers to lock out a tobacco transaction until the purchaser's date of birth is manually entered. Retailers are using whatever tools they can.

"As parents, citizens, and responsible retailers, we share the community's commitment to preventing youth access to tobacco, and the improving compliance rate reflects that," he added.

Headquartered in Albany, NYACS is a private, non-profit trade association representing 8,700 licensed neighborhood mini-marts and convenience stores across the state.