Objectives: This study evaluated an active enforcement program to increase retailers' compliance with the law prohibiting tobacco sales to minors.
Methods: Tobacco sales to minors were monitored in 319 outlets in 6 pairs of communities in Erie County, New York. One community in each pair was randomly assigned to an enforcement intervention.
Results: Retailers' compliance with the law increased from 35% in 1994 to 73% in 1995. However, the change in compliance rates was roughly the same for stores in the enforcement and nonenforcement communities.
Conclusions: Active compliance checking of retail outlets as a strategy to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors may only be necessary insofar as it contributes to an increase in retailers' perception that the threat of enforcement is real.