Tobacco Sales Compliance Improves Overall, With One Exception

Sep 9, 2019

Oregon retailers have done better this year in refusing to sell tobacco to minors. But state inspections found one product with a very high rate of illegal sales.

This image from the Centers for Disease Control shows different types of tobacco products.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

The state uses underage buyers as decoys to see if stores peddling tobacco will sell it to minors without checking IDs. In just over 1,000 inspections, about 16 percent of retailers failed the test…that’s down slightly from the year before.

But the failure rate for so-called “little cigars” more than doubled. These are smaller than standard cigars and often sell for under a dollar. Their price, and the fact that they come in sweet flavors, makes them appealing to youth. The Oregon Health Authority found that just over a quarter of their inspections resulted in a sale to an underage decoy buyer.

As of last year, tobacco sales are only legal to people age 21 and over in Oregon.

Credit Oregon Health Authority