News Release

For Immediate Release
February 4, 1999
CONTACT: Karen L. Faltin
Industry Education Manager
(312) 814-4802

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Illinois Attorney General and Illinois Liquor Control Commission team up against illegal tobacco sales

The state of Illinois has been selected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an intensive 30-day campaign to curb the sale of tobacco products to minors. The $30,000 multi-media campaign features radio, print and billboard ads that will run in Peoria for a four week period beginning February 8 and ending March 5.

The materials use humor and wordplay to remind retailers, clerks and customers about tobacco minimum-age laws and the retailer's risk of fines. One in-store poster, for example, has a retailer saying, "I don't make the laws. I just pay the fines if I break it." And a billboard states, "You want to sell cigarettes to kids? Fine. $250 and up."

Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, joined Sam Panayotovich, director of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC), Peoria Deputy Liquor Commissioner Leonard Unes and youth inspection participants in announcing the program Thursday.

"We have to do a better job in this state keeping tobacco products away from our children. I applaud the Liquor Control Commission and the FDA for their efforts addressing this serious threat to public health," said Attorney General Jim Ryan.

AWe are excited to participate in this campaign,@ stated Sam Panayotovich, director of the ILCC. "We hope this education and advertising campaign will increase retailer compliance with the tobacco minimum-age laws,@ stated Panayotovich.

The campaign is one part of a combined state-federal effort to prevent adolescents from becoming regular tobacco users. The ILCC, under an eighteen month contract with the FDA, is performing 9,000 unannounced investigations of retail establishments to enforce minimum-age laws on tobacco sales. Retailers caught selling tobacco products to minors risk fines starting at $250.

ILCC regulatory officials are commissioned by the FDA to accompany the youths as they attempt to purchase tobacco products in retail establishments throughout the state. Studies show that the best way to keep retailers from selling tobacco products to children is through a combination of compliance activities and public education campaigns that target both retailers and consumers.

During this time, retailers will receive retailer kits including posters and other display items informing staff and customers of the tobacco laws.

"The materials developed for the current state campaigns are so eye-catching that retailers will want to put them in their stores," said Dr. Michael A. Friedman, FDA's lead deputy commissioner. "We want to do everything we can to help retailers comply with the law. That's why the FDA campaign is designed to encourage customers to cooperate with retailers who are trying to do the right thing."

This effort, joined with the ILCC's "Kids Can't Buy 'Em Here" (KCBEH) campaign, proposes to significantly reduce the number of underage tobacco sales in Illinois.

Results confirm that since the kick-off of the "KCBEH" program, Illinois has seen a 53.4 percentage point reduction in illegal underage tobacco sales. Survey results show that in 1998, retailers across the state complied with the tobacco minimum age laws 86.3% of the time, compared with 32.9% in 1994.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) is the state regulatory agency which ensures that licensees comply with the provisions of the Liquor Control Act. In addition, the Commission provides industry education programs, which focus on enforcement practices, the meaning of Illinois liquor control laws, the reduction of illegal sales of alcoholic beverages to minors, and responsibility in serving and selling practices. For additional information call 312/814-2206, write to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission at 100 W. Randolph St., Suite 5-300, Chicago, IL 60601, or visit us on our web site at www.state.il.us/lcc .