184405 Gender and ethnicity of underage decoys and tobacco merchants as predictors of illegal sale of tobacco in Riverside County, California

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Robert S. Peterson, MPH , Riverside County Department of Public Health, Riverside, CA
Florence M. Neglia, MBA , Riverside County Dept. of Public Health, Riverside, CA
Riverside County has one of the toughest tobacco licensing Ordinances in the country.The objective of this Ordinance is to reduce the high (44%) sales to minor's rate Countywide. Over 1500 merchants are now under license. In jurisdictions that have adopted licensing, a dramatic reduction has been observed in the underage sale rate verified by deocy sting operations conducted by Health Department trained decoys. The illegal sale rate has dropped to 9% in those jurisdictions that have adoted licensing, and has remained over 50% in those areas that do not have licensing. In the past year and a half,over 800 businesses that sell tobacco have been the target of a sting operation. Decoys are recruited based on appearance and natural acting ability. Decoys should resemble the minors who are actually trying to purchase tobacco in real situations.

Our decoys are betweeen the ages of 15-17, are of both sexes and are White, African American or Hispanic. The merchants are Middle Eastern, East Indian (including

Pakistani),White, Asian and Hispanic.

After 800 decoy sting operations and attempts to buy tobacco, certain combinations of decoy and merchant gender and ethnicity become predictors of a successful purchase. This presentation will discuss the specifics of those predictors.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the characteristics of a successful underage decoy. 2. Describe the training of decoys in the Riverside County Tobacco Retail Licensing Program. 3. Discuss what dynamics occur at the point of sale in illegal sales of tobacco to minors. 4.List the 3 most common excuses given as to why a merchant sold tobacco to a Health Department decoy.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director of the Riverside County Tobacco Retail Licensing programa and responsible for the decoy sting operations in Riverside County. To date we have conducted over 600 sting operations aimed at tobacco merchants, and have published on the topic of underage tobacco purchases in California.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.