CONCORD — The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services this week announced a decrease in tobacco sales to youth in New Hampshire in 2013.
Tobacco sales to youth in NH dropped to 11.2 percent in 2013, down from 13.2 percent in 2012, according to recent compliance checks. Three hundred and twelve tobacco retailers were surveyed as part of the SYNAR compliance check program. SYNAR is a federally mandated effort to reduce tobacco sales to youth.
“We have been working very closely with our partners at the Division of Liquor Enforcement, DHHS’ Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, and our Regional Public Health Networks to educate retailers about the health risks for youth who use tobacco,” BDAS director Joe Harding said. “The drop in tobacco sales to youth is certainly a step in the right direction and shows our education efforts are helping.”
Data from the NH Youth Risk Behavior Survey demonstrated that youth tobacco use dramatically increases their use of other substances. The results of 22,000 student surveyed in the 2007 YRBS revealed that 27 out of 28 high school students who smoked also reported drinking. The results of the checks are well under the federal SYNAR requirement of 20 percent, and would seem to indicate an increased vigilance among tobacco retailers in New Hampshire.
“We know that tobacco use among our youth causes both immediate and long-term damage,” said Dr. Jose Montero, the state’s public health director. “While this year’s survey shows we are making progress in reducing access to tobacco use among our youth, we need to do more. The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they will become addicted.”
BDAS partners with DHHS’ Division of Public Health Services and the DLE to conduct and report on the results of the compliance checks. In addition, DLE has been contracted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct additional tobacco retailer compliance checks.
BDAS, DPHS, and DLE plan to increase efforts to lower the number of sales to youth, building on the gains from this year. These efforts will include increased coordination with local law enforcement and other educational efforts.