On September 20, 2003 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released data indicating a high level of tobacco use by minors including pregnant teens in Berkshire County particularly in the urban communities. This remains a major public health challenge despite routine compliance checks, state recommended retailer trainings and correction action against store owners for violations of state and local regulations. Subsequently in FY2007, an exponential number of illegal tobacco products were sold to minors and in response to combating these rates, a new tobacco retailer certification program was introduced.
In an attempt to break this unacceptable level of tobacco use among minors, the Tri Town Health Department in collaboration with the retail stores have identified a number of actions that the communities initiated in 2007 that will significantly reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors.
Action Plan Strategy
1. Regulation: The communities of Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, the City of Pittsfield, Great Barrington, and the town of Lanesboro amended their existing Youth Access Regulations to strengthen training components which would require all sales clerks selling tobacco to pass a basic 10 question competency exam and be certified. Please click here for copies of the regulations.
2. Certification: All sales clerks completing the exam with a passing rate of 80% will be issued a 3-year certification confirming their knowledge of regulations and ability to not sell tobacco products to minors. To access the Web-Based Certification program, please click here OR visit the Trainings tab on the main page.
3. Tobacco Sub-Committee: Formation of an 8 member tobacco sub-committee consisting of tobacco retailers, local public health agencies and Boards of Health. The committee will discuss topics like regulations, retailer training and tobacco education. Please contact us for more information regarding our sub-committee meeting dates.
4. Outcome: Since implementing the retailer certification program, illegal sales to minors have significantly decreased. For a breakdown of illegal sales to minors by community, please click here or visit www.makesmokinghistory.org