HARTFORD, CT - In a public hearing of the legislature’s Appropriations and Public Health Committees on Wednesday, Representative Arthur J. O’Neill (R-69) said statistics from the 2013 Report of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund Board of Trustees are alarming and demonstrate that a decrease in enforcement by the Malloy administration has resulted in a spike in illegal tobacco sales to minors over the past four years.
“According to this report, between 2009 and today the violation rate of illegal sales of tobacco to minors has risen from 9.7% to 14.8 %,” said Rep. O’Neill, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “This dramatic increase in illegal sales of tobacco to minors is directly attributable to the Malloy administration making choices to scale back enforcement. Considering the progress we have made toward protecting children and adolescents from the harmful effects of tobacco use, this is a demonstrable step backward, and corrective action needs to be taken.”
A 2011 report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that 19.9% of Connecticut’s high school students had used some form of tobacco in the previous month. The Connecticut School Health Survey estimates that 7.3 million packs of cigarettes are bought and smoked by Connecticut youth each year, starting as early as age 11, and little difference between boys and girls.
“These figures demonstrate that we need to refocus our energies to abating underage smoking,” said Rep. O’Neill. “Part of that effort remains the need for education, but we need to reverse this administration’s lax enforcement standards and be certain that retailers who do not check identification and allow underage kids to buy tobacco products are held accountable. As someone who had both parents die of tobacco-related illnesses, I know how high the stakes are on this issue.”
The committees voted to accept the report presented to them today, but took no further action. The 2014 session of the legislature kicks off on Wednesday, February 5th.