Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Underage Alcohol, Tobacco Sales Fall In Marshall Islands
Active enforcement of laws, educational programs credited

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 20, 2012) – The push to stamp out underage tobacco and alcohol sales is gaining momentum in the Marshall Islands.

For the first time, a majority of stores in the Marshall Islands are now following the law which bans sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18.

Four years ago, an NGO found most stores were breaking the law.

Editor of the Marshall Islands Journal Giff Johnson, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat, that's no longer the case.

"Remarkably, four years ago, the rate of compliance with the law banning cigarettes and alcohol sales to minors was six per cent - nine out of ten stores were illegally selling.

"In the just completed survey, it's really turned around and over 80 percent of the local stores are complying with the law."

Mr. Johnson says an education program, combined with active enforcement, appears to have made the difference.

"They use teenagers along with police and other officials - the teenagers go into stores to try and buy cigarettes - and if they buy them, right there they know they've got a violation... [and] whenever they get a violation, police immediately give a citation to the store," he said.

"The fine isn't huge, but it does make the point, and when you get 20 or 30 or 40 people hauled in to court, it raises the level of the issue for them."

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