A new study reveals how often minors in Washington buy tobacco illegally

CLARKSTON, WA - A new study released Wednesday shows one-in-seven retailers in Washington state illegally sells tobacco to minors.

KLEW News learns more about the study by the Washington Department of Health and the concern leaders have about the rising number of youth tobacco smokers.

For the second year in a row, retailers across the state are selling large amounts of tobacco to minors illegally.

"Out of ten attempts, one retailer in Asotin County ended up selling tobacco to a minor," said Asotin Co. Health Dist. Administrator, Brady Woodbury.

One in ten attempts to an undercover minor working with local police might not sound like that much but Health Department Administrator Brady Woodbury said for 2013 that's one too many.

"The data that concerns me is that 13.1% of tenth graders are smokers in Asotin County," said Woodbury.

And by the time Asotin County teens are seniors in high school, the percentage of twelfth graders who smoke is nearly 25% about a-quarter of the graduating class.

"Across Asotin County we're higher than the rest of the state in most of our smoking numbers," said Woodbury.

"We know that if kids don't use tobacco through age 18 or so, there's a good chance that they're never going to start," said Tim Church. "Very few smokers start as adults."

According to Tim Church of the Washington State Department of Health, right now 15% of tobacco retailers in Washington sell to minors illegally. If that number reaches 20% the state could lose out on $13.5 million dollars in federal funding for drug, alcohol and tobacco programs. Church said the DOH will continue to educate consumers and retailers. And slap hefty fines on those who don't comply if necessary."

You can find the results of the newly released study online at the Washington Department of Health website.