The Kansas Health Institute (KHI), in partnership with the Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD), has released a report on youth access to tobacco in Wyandotte County (WyCo). The report looks at two important issues:
- Enforcement of Tobacco 21: A law that sets the age of sale for tobacco products at 21, keeping them out of the hands of high school age youth.
- Tobacco retailer density: The number of retailers relative to how many people live in the area; and how close those retailers are to WyCo teens.
Tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Kansas and Wyandotte County. Most tobacco users first become addicted to tobacco as teenagers – an addiction which follows them into their adult life. Tobacco 21 (T21) and efforts to reduce the number of tobacco retailers near schools help protect youth from starting smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products in the first place.
Tobacco 21 Enforcement: Ongoing work to help WyCo stores uphold the law
- While most of the cashiers in our county are upholding the law, some continue to sell to underage youth. We especially need to focus on education with convenience stores, the retailers with the most violations of T21.
- UGPHD and the KCK Police Department are partnering on an upcoming Reward & Reminder program. This program will give rewards to cashiers upholding the law and provide a gentle reminder to those in violation.
Tobacco Retailer Density: Too much access to tobacco for youth in WyCo
- Wyandotte County has more than twice the density of tobacco retailers compared to our neighbors in Johnson County
- This puts our youth at risk. Seven out of nine high schools in WyCo have at least one tobacco retailer within walking distance (half mile) of the school. Some schools have as many as 7 or 8 tobacco retailers within walking distance.
- This high density of stores selling tobacco, especially near schools, can make it more likely that young people will start using tobacco products (especially if any of those stores are not complying with the law).
- We urge our community to consider local policies that will keep tobacco retailers away from our schools, and help reduce tobacco retailer density overall.
You can find the full report hcwyco.