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Dane County Vendors Improve by 8%


MADISON, WI, Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - When a store clerk in Dane County sells tobacco to a minor, the clerk and the owner of the store (the tobacco license holder) are subject to a citation and a fine, which can be up to $500 plus court costs for repeated violations. The license holder could also face a license suspension of up to thirty days. Despite such regulations, in 2006 almost 20% of tobacco vendors in the county were selling tobacco products to minors.

But according to a report just issued by the Department of Public Health for Madison and Dane County, the rate of violations in 2007 dropped to 11.7%, reflecting an improvement of almost eight percentage points, or a 40% decrease in the sales rate.

The data was based on a total of 752 inspections carried out in Madison and Dane County. These inspections revealed 88 sales to minors during this period, which means that 88.3% of vendors inspected were in compliance with the law.

"We're happy to see that most vendors in Madison and Dane County aren't selling tobacco to minors," said Ryan Sheahan, Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition Coordinator. "However, as the Dane County rate indicates, there are still too many vendors that aren't asking for ID when selling tobacco products".

Public Health regularly inspects establishments that sell tobacco as part of Wisconsin Wins, a program that aims to reduce illegal sales of tobacco to young people.

This year, there is a new resource available called Smoke Check, which is designed to help vendors stay in compliance. This program provides the vendor with an online tobacco vendor education program through its website The program provides a short test for both the license holder and the store employee that promotes proper compliance. According to Lyle Burmeister, Wins Program Coordinator, "Smoke Check is a tool that allows those responsible for selling tobacco to educate themselves regarding the proper protocol when approached by a youth. The test helps reinforce the seriousness of the problem of selling tobacco to minors."

Sheahan added, "The more vendors understand that on top of the fines and license suspensions, real harm is being done when minors buy and use tobacco. The news in this year's report is good, but we still have room for more improvement."

For a copy of the report, go to



  • Ryan Sheahan, (608) 242-6297
  • Lyle Burmeister, (608) 242-6442
  • Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302