By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
A recent check of tobacco compliance at area stores found 100 percent of locations visited recently asked for identification before selling tobacco.
PreventionWorkz, the regional prevention center funded through Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition recently partnered together to conduct tobacco Reward-Reminder Visits with local retailers. The program rewards clerks who ask for IDs and refuse to sell to youths and gives reminders for those who fail.
“There are no fines or penalties with this program,” said PreventionWorkz Executive Director Sean Byrne. “This is an education program to remind clerks to check IDs and provide them a small reward for doing so.
“In the future law enforcement may conduct compliance checks where there will be significant penalties for selling to youth.”
Byrne said recent checks showed 100 percent of clerks complied with the law and asked for identification.
“Many of the stores have really gotten behind this program and give their clerks a bonus in their checks for passing,” Byrne said. “So, needless to say, clerks are pretty happy when we do these reward-reminder visits.”
According to Tobaccofreekids.org, the tobacco industry spends $245.8 million in Oklahoma to market its products.
Youths are twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising as adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing. Byrne said this makes it crucial that laws preventing the sale of tobacco products to those under 18 are enforced.
Eleven and a half million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by kids each year, and every day in Oklahoma the equivalent of another classroom of children become hooked on tobacco, Byrne said.
Anyone interested in joining the Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition can contact Rural Health Projects at (580) 213-3168.