Arizona Kids Have 15-Percent Success Rate When Buying Cigarettes Without ID. AG Tom Horne Pissed

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Arizona kids have about a 15-percent success rate when trying to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from retail outlets across the state -- and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is pissed.

"For every 20 minors that walk into a store in Arizona to buy cigarettes, three of them -- without fake ID's or lying or even trying to hide their true age -- will be able to buy cigarettes," Horne says.

The AG's Office released figures yesterday outlining the failure rates of retail outlets when it comes to selling underage kids tobacco products.

According to Horne, tobacco retailers across the state are failing to ID kids trying to buy cigarettes 14.6-percent of the time, according to the results of an investigation that targeted 1,979 tobacco retailers across the state.

In the more rural parts of the state -- Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo, and Pinal counties -- the failure rate was 25 percent or higher.

"My office is serious about preventing tobacco sales to minors," Horne continues. "We regularly send out underage volunteers who attempt to make purchases, and if they are offered the opportunity to buy tobacco products by a store clerk, that is a violation of state law. The clerk is held personally liable for paying a fine of up to $300, which should be a powerful disincentive for anyone to sell tobacco to a minor."

Horne's solution: a far-from-clever campaign of public service announcements with the catch phrase "pay the price" (not quite as catchy as "click it or ticket.") to remind retailers who sell tobacco to kids of the $300 fine they face if caught.

Horne says the Attorney General's Office has released a 30-second T.V. PSA -- as well as an accompanying radio spot -- with the aforementioned slogan that will be broadcast statewide.

A spokeswoman for the AG's Office is looking into how much these PSAs cost, and who's paying for them. We'll let you know when she gets back to us.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.