An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia got another piece of good news about its fight to keep kids from picking up the habits that are killing far too many Mountain State adults. This year has been the best on record for retailers’ compliance with laws against selling tobacco products to minors.
In fact, only 8 percent of stores subjected to random unannounced compliance checks sold tobacco to minors. That is down from 13 percent last year. As retailers become more vigilant, minors may find it more difficult to get tobacco products; and, especially for kids, making something harder to get may mean keeping them from getting hooked in the first place.
It must be noted that West Virginia high schools students who participated in recent studies, and who admit to smoking cigarettes, freely acknowledge that there are other ways to get them. Nearly 30 percent said they simply had someone else buy the products; and nearly 25 percent said they “borrowed” from family or friends.
But the idea that a cultural norm may be changing is fantastic. Retailers may no longer be part of the permissive, even encouraging, culture that made West Virginia less willing to be part of the fight against tobacco addiction. Kids picking up the habit may no longer be seen as simply the way things have always been.
Kudos to the retailers who have stepped up their efforts to comply with the law and keep kids from gaining easy access to tobacco. It is one of many small steps that show West Virginia is heading in the right direction.
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