Retailers Reminded Tobacco Age Now 21

Feb 5, 2021

The Marathon County Health Department reminds tobacco retailers that the legal age to purchase tobacco is 21, and has been for one year.

Health Educator Jenna Flynn says even though state statutes are different, the federal law is what should be followed.

“It is important for retailers to understand that it is a federal law, and they do have to comply.”

Flynn says they have made several educational materials available to retailers and are working on promotional display items as well.

After a sharp increase in sales of tobacco products to minors, the Northwoods Tobacco Free Coalition is sponsoring two free training sessions for retailers.

Spokesperson Maria Skubal says the amount of tobacco products sold to youth shot up last year...

" every year our coalition goes out and conducts compliance checks. In 2014 Oneida county had a pretty high non-compliance illegal sales rate of 18.6 percent...."

A recent survey found fewer adults smoking, but a health worker says there's more work to be done.

The survey by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention found 18 percent of Wisconsin adults lighting up. That's  down from 20 percent in it's survey from two years ago and consistent with a national figure of 17.9 percent.

The Coordinator For the Northwoods Tobacco-Free Coalition, Corie Zelazoski,  says cutting the adult smoking rate is a success, but there are still certain groups of people with higher-than-normal smoking numbers...

There has been a rise in the number of underage youth buying tobacco in the Northwoods.

The state Department of Health Services contracts with local partners to conduct investigations to establish retailer compliance with the law prohibiting tobacco sales to minors.

Maria Skubal from the Oneida County Health Department says recent figures show an uptick in underage tobacco sales in most Northwoods counties...

Health departments are promoting an online training program for tobacco retailers, designed to reduce illegal sales of tobacco to minors.

Marta Koelling is Community Health Specialist for the Oneida County Health Department.  She says the online program called is free and educational. 

“It offers information and study guides on Wisconsin’s tobacco laws, checking ids, and communicating with customers.” 

Participants can choose to take an exam at the end of the training and receive a state-approved certificate.