Study: Vendors ask teens for ID, but still sell smokes
Vendors are more likely to sell cigarettes to underage Colorado teens when they show identification, according to a study in the December issues of Tobacco Control.
A group of teens ages 14 to 17 attempted to buy cigarettes more than 1,000 times in Front Range counties outside Denver, visiting about a quarter of the state's tobacco outlets. Half the time the teens presented identification with their true ages. Other times they didn't carry proof of age.
Clerks asked for ID 87 percent of the time, but sales occurred six times more often when they presented ID than when they had none to present.
Whether clerks didn't check the date or knowingly supplied teenagers with tobacco is "the $64,000 question," said Arnold Levinson, chief investigator for the study.
Clerks who broke the law weren't sanctioned, Levinson said. "We didn't stop and write summonses," he said.
Altogether, 138 of 1,080 attempts - 12.8 percent - resulted in an illegal sale.
It's good most businesses are asking for proof of age, Levinson said, but asking isn't enough when the ID isn't examined.
Co-investigator Tim Byers said the study identified a big crack in the enforcement system.
"The kids know where to go," Levinson said.