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Most retailers comply in youth ‘tobacco assessment’

A team of high school students from Hood River Valley High School Health Media Club in partnership with The Dalles YouthThink recently participated in a tobacco retail assessment, a youth led evaluation around the sale of tobacco products in their community.

The participants visited over 50 tobacco retailers in Hood River and Wasco County on April 25 to assess if retailers would allow them to purchase tobacco products. The underage youth, with parental and law enforcement permission, entered local retail stores and attempted to purchase tobacco products. Out of the 50 retailers, six did not card and allowed the minors to purchase tobacco products.

Retailers that did not card were given a letter and tobacco product was not purchased. The letter asked them to remember to ask for identification and support the health of our youth. Retailers that did card and that refused to sell received a thank you letter from the participants.

In this particular project, no citations or fines were delivered if a retailer was not in compliance.

“It is strictly an evaluation of our local retailers’ efforts and to remind retailers to keep tobacco out of the hands of our youth,” said Belinda Ballah of Hood River Prevention Office. “We commend our local retailers that are consistently checking the I.D. of youth prior to selling tobacco products and refusing to sell to those who are under the age of 18.”

Students discussed the negative health effects caused by tobacco and that tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Oregon. They also talked about how Big Tobacco targets youth, communities of color and low income to initiate tobacco use. At the end of the day when asked about their experience, youth participant Elizabeth Blas Campos said, “I want to be involved in my community to create change.”

Tobacco Assessment are used as a project to educate and engage youth in the health and well being of their community around tobacco use and health equity. A community collaboration with Mid Columbia Health Equity Advocates, The Next Door, YouthThink, North Central Public Health District and HRVHS Health Media Club and Hood River County Prevention Office.

For more information about Tobacco Assessments please contact Belinda Ballah, Prevention Specialist at Hood River County Prevention Office, at 541-387-6890 or Shellie Campbell, Tobacco Prevention Education Program Coordinator at North Central Public Health District, at 541-506-2609.

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