Health and Family Services Cabinet
Number of Kentucky Youths Purchasing Tobacco Remains Low

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, January 25, 2006  
Contact Information:  Johnnie Woods, (502) 564-4456  


The compliance rate for unauthorized sales of tobacco to minors continues to show remarkable improvement over previous compliance rates.

This information comes from an annual buying survey conducted by the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which works in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the Department for Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, to ensure regulatory compliance.  

The 2005 survey, conducted during the summer, revealed a 6.3 percentage rate for illegal sales of tobacco to Kentucky youths. The compliance rate for 2004 was 5.6 percent, which was down from the 6.6 percentage rate reported for 2003. In 2002, the rate was 9.7 percent. Compliance rates for 2001, 2000 and 1999 were 12.3 percent, 13.4 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively.

“We continue to make strides in the effort to reduce the rate of unauthorized sales of tobacco products,” said Mark Birdwhistell, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  “By reducing the number of young people purchasing these products, we’re preventing more people from using tobacco. Ultimately, this will help lessen the amount of tobacco dependency in the state and produce a healthier population.”

“Keeping our young Kentuckians from illegally purchasing and using tobacco products is
critical to their good health,” said Teresa Barton, executive director of the state’s Office of Drug Control Police (ODCP).  “ABC officers have worked diligently to keep vendor non-compliance very low.  Preventing youth tobacco use is a key component of the mission of the ODCP. This is another fine example of state agencies partnering with retailers and local programs to accomplish a very important goal. We are all counting on them to keep up the excellent work.”  

Federal law authorizes the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant and requires states to enact and enforce laws designed to reduce the availability of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. The states are required to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco vendors to demonstrate compliance with the law. 

The state must conduct the annual buying survey using a scientific random sample study protocol approved by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and must demonstrate that its compliance rate does not exceed the target of 20 percent for illegal tobacco sales to minors. 

The SAPT Block Grant, administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is the single largest funding stream in Kentucky supporting substance abuse prevention and treatment.

V. Lavoyed Hudgins, executive director of the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control, praised CHFS for its confidence in ABC’s enforcement agents.

“This outstanding compliance rate is directly attributable to the work of our education branch and tobacco staff in completing educational programs, to responsible retail businesses throughout the commonwealth, and to the diligence and vigilance displayed by our enforcement staff in carrying out the monthly compliance checks,” said Hudgins.

Statistics from the annual buying survey allow the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to better target prevention efforts and resources.

More information about this program and other substance abuse prevention or treatment programs can be obtained from Johnnie Woods, of CHFS’ Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, at (502) 564-4456.