CLEARFIELD -- Buying tobacco continues to become more difficult for underage buyers in Davis County, say Davis County Health Department officials.
A partnership between the health department and local law enforcement agencies has resulted in fewer successful tobacco purchases by minors. The successful buy rate decreased from 9.2 percent in 2010 to 5.5 percent in 2011.
The program puts underage buyers -- supervised by local law enforcement -- in stores and has them attempt to buy tobacco products. Between July 2010 and June 2011, 452 such attempts were made, but only 25 were successful.
"I'm pleased with the recent downward trend from last year," said Davis County Health Department Director Lewis Garrett.
"We're down significantly from our high of 14 percent, which we saw for the July 2006 to June 2007 time frame."
Since 1989, the Davis County Health Department and local law enforcement agencies have worked together to decrease underage access to tobacco.
"We conduct a very robust program aimed at educating tobacco retailers on how to train their clerks to identify underage buyers, and it's still showing good results," Garrett said.
"Several retailers have had successful systems in place for many years, and we want to provide recognition to those who did not sell tobacco to minors," said Bob Ballew, public information officer for the Davis health department.
Saigon Market in Sunset and Sinclair Main Street Service in Layton were awarded for 20 years of compliance.
Thuy Tran, a cashier at Saigon Market, said his manager extensively trains clerks on how to handle underage tobacco shoppers. Employees are told to always check identification when a customer wants to purchase tobacco products.
"Even the people that look a little bit older, we still ask them for ID," Tran said.
Smith's in Farmington and 7-Eleven on Main Street in Kaysville were awarded for 10 years of compliance.
In all, 86 retailers throughout Davis County were given annual tobacco compliance awards.
Sale of tobacco products to a person under age 19 is a class C misdemeanor on the first offense. Clerks are issued citations at the time of the violation. Store owners are also subject to civil penalties for selling tobacco to an underage buyer.
Stores are fined for the first two violations and receive a 30-day tobacco license suspension on the third. If there is a fourth violation within a 12-month period, the store's license to sell tobacco is revoked.
The fine may be reduced if the store has a documented training program and proof that its employee was trained.