Category: California

Tobacco Sales to Minors Drops

A survey has found that the California rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors has decreased. Photo: DLSimaging/Flickr Creative Commons

Tobacco-only stores have highest illegal sales rate

SACRAMENTO (MNS) — Sales of tobacco products to minors in California has dipped, according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Karen Smith.

“I’m concerned that the announcement, recently, that a survey has found that the California rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors has decreased. According to the 2015 Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey, illegal tobacco sales to minors at retail outlets occurred at a rate of 7.6 percent, compared to last year’s rate of 9 percent.

When the state first started monitoring illegal sales of tobacco in 1997, teens participating in the survey were able to buy tobacco products during 21.7 percent of tobacco purchase attempts.

“For seven consecutive years, the rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors has remained under 10 percent,” Smith said. “However, the Healthy People 2020 target is to reduce this to 5 percent or less which indicates that California still has room for considerable progress.

“I’m concerned that too many stores, especially certain types such as tobacco-only stores and convenience stores, are willing to illegally sell tobacco products to youth,” Smith said.

Notably, stores specializing in the sale of tobacco products, commonly known as tobacco-only stores, had the highest illegal sales rate, with 14.8 percent in 2015. Other stores with high rates of illegal tobacco sales include:

  • Convenience stores without gas (9.5 percent)
  • Convenience stores that sell gasoline (8.8 percent)
  • Less common retail outlets, such as discount and gift stores, gas stations without convenience stores and car washes (8.6 percent)

The difference between the rate of sales at non-traditional tobacco retail stores and the rate at more traditional retailers continues to narrow and is only separated by 0.2 percentage points (7.7 percent vs. 7.5 percent, respectively).

Supermarkets and drug stores/pharmacies had the lowest rate of illegal sales at 3.9 percent and 0 percent, respectively.

This annual survey of illegal sales of cigarettes to minors is conducted to gauge the rate of illegal tobacco sales across California and to comply with the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act. All U.S. states and territories are required to assess their rate of illegal sales of tobacco to youth, pursuant to the Federal Synar Amendment.

Besides conducting the annual survey, CDPH Food and Drug Branch conducts ongoing illegal sales compliance checks. The survey of 733 stores throughout the state is conducted by monitoring more than 100 youth who are sent to retail outlets to attempt to purchase tobacco products. California retailers caught selling tobacco products to minors during these enforcement operations may be subject to fines up to $6,000 for repeated violations.

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African Bamboo: Vast Reserves, Untapped Green Gold

African bamboo reserves can boost green economy, thrust continent into global $60 billion bamboo trade

KUMASI, Ghana (AFKI) — Bamboo is more than just sustenance for giant pandas and gorillas. The abundant reserves of African bamboo can help the continent build a green economy and join the global $60 billion bamboo trade. Bamboo can also help the continent address its deforestation problem.

According to Hans Friederich, director-general of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), Africa’s growth in bamboo has “great opportunity.”

“The continent has vast reserves of largely untapped bamboo that, if properly managed, could benefit rural communities and promote green economic development,” Friederich said.

Bamboo is used to make watches, bikes, scaffolding, chopsticks, flooring, furniture, building and roofing materials, paper, textiles and many other items.

Apart from the plant’s ability to grow nearly one meter a day, it is a sustainable resource and can provide an environmentally sound way to alleviate poverty, while addressing the continents deforestation problem due to increased industrialization.

Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more acres into private hands.

According to the Environmental News Network, a web-based resource, Africa loses forest cover equal to the size of Switzerland every year, or approximately 26,000 square miles.

“African Bamboo can be harnessed to reverse land degradation, slow deforestation, combat climate change through carbon sequestration, and boost rural livelihoods through the creation of jobs and income,” added Friederich.

Of African bamboo forests, Ethiopia leads other African nations, including Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

Two-thirds of the world’s bamboo forest is found in the horn of Africa nation where the industry has grown from making toothpicks to flooring and curtains.

In Ghana, the plant is becoming popular in making locally manufactured bicycles.

Despite it clear benefit and huge potential, many African countries still do not have “Practical policies at the local, national and regional level,” Friederich said.

In some ways, the challenge in Africa is not to introduce bamboo, but to persuade people and governments that it has commercial uses.

“We’ve taken policymakers from Africa to China and India where bamboo used in everyday life — and there’s still very poor adoption,” Dr. Chin Ong, a retired professor of environmental science at the University of Nottingham in England, who was formerly a senior scientist at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, told The New York Times.

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