The number of Dane County vendors caught selling cigarettes to minors declined significantly in 2008. Young people working for the health department's compliance check program were able to buy smokes just 7.4% of the time in 788 attempts. That's down from 19.5% in 2006 and 11.7% in 2007.
A slightly higher percentage of illegal sales took place in Madison, versus the rest of Dane County. The checks included convenience and gas stores, liquor stores, grocery stores, drugstores, restaurants and bowling alleys.
Schneider of the health place thingy says compliance worsened several years ago when the Legislature restricted the allowable number of checks, but has since rebounded. "We know from experience that if we don't do this program, the sale rates go back up."