Attention Dutchess County tobacco retail vendors: You may be due for a routine compliance check by the Dutchess County Department of Health (DCDOH).
DCDOH is responsible for enforcing the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, more commonly referred to as ATUPA, throughout the County. In order to do this, the Department employs teenagers, between the ages of 15 and 17, to assist in completing compliance checks at all tobacco retail facilities.
Currently, there are 353 tobacco retail vendors licensed to sell herbal cigarettes or tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, etc.) in Dutchess County. Between October 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006, 247 compliance checks were done, with eight vendors cited for selling tobacco products to minors. Of the eight facilities that have been cited, only one vendor had a previous violation and was subject to a six month suspension of their state and local tobacco retail permit. The remaining seven vendors were “first time” offenders and therefore only subject to a 48-hour suspension of their local health department permit. To date, a total of $6,550 has been collected in fines.
Two facilities were also cited for selling tobacco products to adults while their DCDOH tobacco permit was suspended. As a result, an additional fine was assessed and their suspension period was also extended.
The facilities that have been cited for selling tobacco products to minors have been spread throughout the county and they are not concentrated in any one particular geographic region or around venues, such as schools, playgrounds, that are frequented by minors.
In addition to the efforts to decrease youth access to tobacco products, DCDOH also conducts routine after-hours compliance checks at restaurants and bars to verify that patrons and staff are in-compliance with the Clean Indoor Air Act.
Since January 1, 2006, 23 checks have been made, with five bars found to be in non-compliance. Fines have been assessed against these facility operators. To date, a total of $3,150 has been collected. In addition to the assessment of monetary fines for these violations, operators have also been required to make a commitment to enforce the law in their facilities.
DCDOH continually recruits individuals 15 to 17 years old, who may be interested in working with the ATUPA program. If you have any questions about the Clean Indoor Air Act, or if you would be interested in participating in the tobacco enforcement program, please call 845.486.3404.
Dutchess County Department of Health
DUTCHESS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH'S
ATUPA BACKGROUND INFORMATION
ATUPA BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Dutchess County Department of Health is responsible for enforcing the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act, more commonly referred to as ATUPA, throughout the County. In accordance with Article 13 F of the New York State Public Health Law and Article 25 of the Dutchess County Sanitary Code, routine compliance checks are conducted, at least annually, at all tobacco retail facilities that are licensed to operate in the County. Notably, the compliance check schedule follows the fiscal year, beginning October 1 and ending September 30.
The purpose of ATUPA and the related compliance checks is to try to prevent the sale of tobacco products and herbal cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. To do this, the Department employs and trains qualified minors (between the ages of 15 and 17), who visit retail facilities that sell cigars, cigarettes, herbal cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc. During these “visits,” these minors enter the premises of tobacco retailers, ask to purchase a particular brand of tobacco product, and then exit the store, with the product if the purchase was made, or without the product if the sale was denied. The compliance officer, who enters the store before the minor to ensure that the environment is safe, then approaches the counter, identifies themselves and congratulates the vendor for not selling to a minor, or informs the vendor that they have just sold tobacco products to a minor.
New York State Public Health Law, Article 13F states that photo identification should be requested from individuals who appear to be younger than 25 years of age. It clarifies, however, that appearance may not be used as a defense for failing to ask for identification and then selling tobacco to an individual who is younger than 18 years of age. The sale of tobacco products to a minor is a violation of the ATUPA law which may result in monetary fines, imposed by the Dutchess County Department of Health, ranging anywhere from $300 to $1500. Suspension of the DCDOH permit and NYS Taxation and Finance permit may also result. Exact fines and length of suspension, however, depends upon the number of previous violations and other violations that may be cited at the time of the compliance check.
Adult compliance checks are also conducted during the period when a tobacco permit is suspended, to ensure that the facility is complying with its Stipulated Agreement.
Finally, in an effort to address the hazards associated with employee exposure to second-hand smoke, New York State passed the Clean Indoor Air Act in July of 2003. This law virtually prohibits smoking in all places of employment including restaurants and bars.
Compliance is verified through after-hour compliance checks done by Dutchess County Department of Health staff.