Category: USA & World

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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Disease-carrying mosquito species found in California

Two invasive mosquito species, Aedes aegypti, ( yellow fever mosquito, above), and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), have been detected in California. Photo (magnified 1,000 times) courtesy California Department of Public Health

Dangerous invasive mosquito species found in California; state health officials offer tips to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses

SACRAMENTO (MNS) — The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning Californians to protect themselves from two invasive mosquito species recently found in California. Both species can transmit infectious diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This warning comes as two more counties are added to the list of counties where Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito), and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), have been detected.

mosquito bites

“It is important to know these species of mosquitoes because they are not what we’re used to in California, and they can transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever,” said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the State Department of Public Health. “While the risk is still low in California, infected travelers coming back to California can transmit these viruses to mosquitoes that bite them. This can lead to additional people becoming infected if they are then bitten by those mosquitoes.”

In September 2015, Aedes aegypti was detected for the first time in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Since 2013, when this species was first discovered in Madera, Fresno and San Mateo counties, it has been found in Tulare, Kern, Los Angeles, San Diego, Imperial, Orange, and Alameda counties. Also in September, Aedes albopictus, was detected in Kern and San Diego counties and has expanded in regions of Los Angeles County.

Neither of these mosquitoes is native to California, said Smith. They are known for their black-and-white stripes, biting people during the middle of the day and readily entering buildings. The more-familiar Culex mosquitoes bite primarily at dusk and dawn.

“There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya or dengue fever. To prevent these diseases from becoming established in California, it is important for everyone to take steps to keep these mosquitoes from spreading,” Smith said. “If you notice that you are being bitten by mosquitoes during the day or notice black-and-white striped mosquitoes, call your local mosquito and vector control agency. Your participation in mosquito surveillance greatly aids in efforts to detect new infestations.”

To prevent mosquito-borne illnesses present in California, such as West Nile virus disease, or abroad, such as chikungunya and dengue, Smith offers the following preventive measures:

– Apply mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and/or oil of lemon eucalyptus to your skin and clothing.

– Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when mosquitoes are most active.

– Use air conditioning, and keep mosquitoes from getting into your home by having intact window and door screens.

– Eliminate potential mosquito-breeding sources, such as water-filled containers, from around your home and where you work. Drain water that may have collected under potted plants, in bird baths and discarded tires. Check your rain gutters to make sure they aren’t holding water, and clean pet water trays weekly.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can lay eggs in containers holding as little as a teaspoon of water, and eggs, which are laid just above the water line, can survive dry conditions for months. This is why it is important to dump, drain, or eliminate unnecessary sources of standing water around your home and scrub containers to dislodge eggs.

If you travel to Mexico or other countries in Latin America, it is especially important to be aware of Aedes mosquitoes and the diseases that they can carry. This year, Mexico has had a dramatic increase in the number of chikungunya cases. So far, about one-third of the 120 chikungunya cases imported into California were contracted in Mexico, with 91 percent of cases coming from Latin America. Sixty-nine imported cases of dengue have been reported in California this year.