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Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Tobacco education campaign unveiled

July 8, 2005

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— A partnership of state and private groups is trying to increase the percentage of Kansas retailers enforcing federal laws against selling cigarettes to minors.

The state is currently failing those requirements, potentially endangering millions of dollars in federal funding.

Called "It's Everybody's Business," the campaign will provide training to tobacco retailers and their employees. The state plans to spend $2 million over the next two years on tobacco education and enforcement.

Details were announced Wednesday in Wichita, at the corporate offices of the QuikTrip chain.

Officials plan similar announcements on Friday in Pittsburg, teaming organizations with Walgreens, and on Monday in Kansas City, featuring Wal-Mart.

Federal law requires states to ensure that at least 80 percent of retailers that sell cigarettes don't sell to minors under 18.

Roger Smith with the Wichita Environmental Services Department said federal officials told the state in May that only about 73 percent of the Kansas' 3,100 tobacco retailers were complying with the rules.

That's an increase from 62 percent last year, said Jackson Armbrister, who oversees tobacco programs for the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

"But we need to get it up to around 80 percent," Armbrister said.

Failure to do so could put at risk up to $5 million the state receives for substance abuse and treatment programs.

The compliance rate in Kansas is based on a random check of 650 stores that sell cigarettes. Armbrister's division sends minors into the stores to try to buy cigarettes.

If the store sells them tobacco, the state can fine the business $1,000 and the clerk $200 and suspend the retailer's license to sell tobacco products. They can also be charged with a misdemeanor.

Several cities also do their own checks and can levy their own fines and other penalties.

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