Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey 2017

The Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey (YTPS) is required by the Federal Synar amendment and California’s STAKE Act. The YTPS is a scientific, unannounced survey of a random sample of retail outlets statewide, from which an estimate of the overall state illegal sales rate to minors is calculated. Percentages are calculated by taking the number of stores that sold tobacco to minors during the survey and dividing it by the number of stores surveyed. Information on sales rates and YTPS results are available from websites such as California Department of Public Health.

In Sierra County, community-based organizations such as Friday Night Live working with the Tobacco-Use Reduction Program conduct the YTPS in order to determine the number of retailers willing to sell tobacco to minors. The protocol used during the survey is based on the STAKE Act protocol which is a comprehensive consummated buy protocol where youth volunteers attempt to purchase tobacco from a tobacco vendor. The 2016 California state wide results illustrate 10.3% of California stores sold to minors. This is an increase of 36% over the state’s all-time low of 7.6% in 2015. California’s results for 2017 are not yet available.

In 2017, 20% or one store out of all 5 tobacco retailers in our County sold to a minor. This may seem very high compared to California’s rate of 10.3% but it is difficult to compare Sierra County’s results to California’s or even other counties due to our size. We are the second smallest county in California, have only five to six stores to survey and normally survey all stores. Nevertheless, our illegal sales rate to minors still has room for improvement.

YTPS are and have been a beneficial source of data for leaders and policy makers helping them understand the problem of youth access to tobacco and in creating policy solutions to prevent youth tobacco use.