Recently retailers in Red Deer were secretly tested by the Action On Smoking & Health (ASH) and 75% of them were prepared to sell cigarettes to a minor.
The ASH selected 12 local retailers located within walking distance of schools in Red Deer and had a 17-year-old subject try to buy tobacco products.
No real purchases were made, however many of the 17-year-olds attempts were approved by retailers.
Local spokesperson for ASH Gail Foreman said that the organization is concerned the federal legislation prohibiting tobacco sales to minors is not being taken seriously by many retailers.
“These results are appalling and point to the need for improved legislation and enforcement,” said Formean. “We have submitted the names and locations of the offending retailers to Health Canada for further investigation.”
Other communities within Alberta were also tested including Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Fort McMurray.
Under the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Act, liquor retailers require a license to sell liquor products and they must check photo ID of anyone appearing under the age of 25. Also, clerks must be at least 18 years of age and all sales staff require mandatory training. These measures do not apply to tobacco sales.
“Smoking rates among Alberta youth remain disturbingly high and we are not meeting our tobacco reduction targets in this regard,” said Foreman. “ The Alberta government needs to clamp down on tobacco sales to help protect kids from the predatory marketing practices of the tobacco industry.”
Foreman added she is disappointed with the results since one organization claimed that rates among retailers were better and they were working with the specific retailers.
“It is extremely scary and clearly something needs to change in Alberta.”
Last year Alberta Health and wellness reported that the provincial government failed to achieve its tobacco reduction target from 13% to 10% among youth aged 12 to 19.
“We urge the government to apply its successful retail liquor licensing model to tobacco products to help keep Alberta kids tobacco-free,” said Foreman.
The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is currently surveying all of the PC and Liberal leadership candidates and other party leaders for their support of provincial legislation to curb tobacco sales to minors. The survey results can be viewed at www.smokefreealberta.com.