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Tobacco Prevention Coalition
Health Department



Tobacco Sales to Youth

Current Law

The Michigan Youth Tobacco Act (Act 31 of 1915) prohibits the “selling, giving or furnishing” of tobacco to youth under the age of 18 years. It also…

Prohibits the purchase and possession of tobacco in any form in public places by individuals under the age of 18.

Results in fines and loss of liquor license for all retailers who are found to be in violation of the Act.

Copy of the complete Act is available here.



Macomb County Tobacco Statistics for Adolescents
(Source: Macomb County Schools 2003 Alcohol and Other Drugs School Survey Aggregate Summary Report)

  • Among Eighth Grade youth, past month use of tobacco went from 22% in 1999 to 10% in 2003.
  • Among Tenth Grade youth, past month use of tobacco went from 36% in 1999 to 25% in 2003.
  • Among Twelfth Grade youth, past month use of tobacco went from 46% in 1999 to 36% in 2003.


The national average for Twelfth Grade youth past month use of tobacco went from 35% in 1999 to 27% in 2003.

  • More than 80% of adults who are addicted to tobacco developed their addiction through the use of tobacco before the age of 18.
  • Young people believe that they can use tobacco for a short while and then stop whenever they wish.
  • Recent studies indicate that addiction to tobacco can begin to develop with as little as two weeks of daily use.
  • No one intends to develop a lifelong addiction when they begin to smoke. Most young people think that they will never become dependent on tobacco use or that it will destroy their health and lead to premature death.


Current Status

Since 1994, the Macomb County Community Mental Health Office of Substance Abuse has assessed the percentage of retailers who sell tobacco products to underage youth.

  • In 1995, 80% of Macomb retailers sold tobacco (illegally) to minors.
  • By 2011, the percentage had dropped to 5.3% of surveyed retailers.

The decline in illegal sales of tobacco to minors in Macomb County is the direct result of the sponsorship of the Coalition of a retailer education initiative, which involved youth visiting every retailer in Macomb County. Their visit included a representative from the local community who provided education and undercover assessment to determine if the retailer was selling tobacco products illegally.

The Federal Government requires that the State of Michigan keep illegal sales of tobacco under 20%.

Failure to maintain low levels of sales can result in the loss of 40% of Federal funding that supports alcohol and other drug prevention and treatment services.


Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults

- A Report of the Surgeon General

This Surgeon General’s report examines in detail the epidemiology, health effects, and causes of tobacco use among youth ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25. For the first time tobacco data on young adults as a discrete population has been explored. This is because nearly all tobacco use begins in youth and young adulthood, and because young adults are a prime target for tobacco advertising and marketing activities. This report also highlights the efficacy of strategies to prevent young people from using tobacco.

To view the full report, executive summary, factsheets and more, click here.