Wood County Completes Tobacco Compliance Checks
Wood County, WI (OnFocus) – The Nicotine Prevention Alliance of Central Wisconsin in partnership with Healthy People Wood County completed the WI Wins compliance checks for the 2021-2022 year. In Wood County, 74% of retailers did not sell to minors during January-June 2022 compliance checks. These checks had been on hold due to health and safety protocols with the COVID-19 pandemic, but started again in January and will continue to occur throughout the year.
WI Wins is a statewide program that works to prevent underage sales of tobacco products by keeping nicotine and tobacco products out of kids’ hands. The program does this through a combination of compliance checks and retailer education. Compliance checks occur throughout the year at the local level with youth volunteers age 16-17 who enter tobacco retailer establishments and attempt to purchase tobacco or nicotine products. This important component verifies whether tobacco retailers and unlicensed vape shops are following the federal Tobacco 21 law.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Knowing the harmful effects of nicotine makes it important for current e-cigarette users to quit vaping.
“We weren’t sure what to expect when conducing our first rounds of checks since the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Wood County Health Department employee, Ashley Normington. “Another important event to take into consideration is the federal Tobacco 21 law, which passed in late 2019 and became effective immediately. There has been some confusion among tobacco retailers as to which law to follow since Wisconsin state law does not currently match the federal law. We are doing our best to educate retailers that it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes—to anyone under 21 with no exceptions.”
Retailers who have sold tobacco to minors can receive free training and avoid potential fines in the future by visiting witobaccocheck.org. The state-approved training includes study guides, a short quiz, and a certificate of completion that employers can keep on file.
“We know we still have some work to do in Wood County to keep commercial tobacco and nicotine out of the hands of those under 21, but also want to thank retailers who do not sell to youth,” stated Normington. “Following a round of checks, our youth volunteers send hand-written thank you postcards to retailers who passed checks. These retailers are helping Wood County kids live healthier lives.”
Free help is now available for teens who vape and want to quit through the Live Vape Free Text Line. Teens can access the service by texting “VAPEFREE” to 873373. In Wisconsin, close to half (45.5% of high school students have tried vaping (2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Parents, guardians, or other adults who want to help a young person in their life quit e-cigarettes can enroll in a free online course at www.dhs.wisconisn.gov/vapefree. The course teaches about warning signs and gives tips and tools for talking to teens.
Learn more about WI Wins at wiwins.org. Retailers can complete free online training at witobaccocheck.org.
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