FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg is quoted: “It should worry every parent that 20 percent of U.S. high school students smoke cigarettes…Retailers are vital partners in the FDA’s efforts to prevent tobacco use among kids.”
What the FDA didn’t report is that in most states, retailer compliance is outstanding. I downloaded the raw data from the agency’s website and noted compliance statistics for the available states:
|FDA Tobacco Retail Compliance Inspections in 16 States|
|State||Number of Inspections||Compliance Rate (%)|
Retailers in all states combined showed a 96% compliance rate, with every state except Missouri above 90%. Retailers in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland and Maine demonstrated compliance rates of at least 99%.
As I noted in an earlier post (here), the principal suppliers of tobacco to underage users are adult friends or relatives, according to a 2004 study (abstract here).
The FDA should continue to monitor retailers, but when it comes to children’s access to tobacco, retailers are clearly not the major problem.