Underage tobacco sales in Wisconsin fell from 7.1 percent in 2017 to 5.8 percent in 2018, according to the Federal Synar Survey, which measures how frequently tobacco retailers sell to minors. The dip in underage sales reverses the upward trend in tobacco sales to minors in recent years.

"Retailers are our partners in the effort to prevent tobacco sales to minors, and we applaud their efforts to help protect children's health, said Karen McKeown, state health officer. "We're encouraged to see the sales numbers going in the right direction."

According to the Synar Survey, the three tobacco products sold most often to youth were little cigars and cigarillos (7.4 percent), smokeless tobacco (6.7 percent) and e-cigarettes (5.1 percent), all of which come in candy and fruit flavors. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that eight of 10 youth tobacco users started with a flavored product. DHS launched the Tobacco is Changing campaign in late 2017 to inform parents about brightly packaged, candy-flavored tobacco products targeted to appeal to children.

Free training to help prevent underage tobacco sales is available at witobaccocheck.org, where retailers and their employees can familiarize themselves with Wisconsin tobacco sales law and get tips for avoiding underage sales. The site includes study guides and a quiz for tobacco retail employees.

When employees pass the quiz, retailers receive a certificate verifying participation in the training.