December 30. 2016 10:56PM

Survey: Minors purchased 16.6 percent of tobacco in NH in 2015

CONCORD — Minors purchased 16.6 percent of all tobacco sold retail in New Hampshire in 2015, an increase of 2.2 percentage points over the previous year, state health officials said this week.

The figures are part of a survey of 338 randomly selected merchants that was mandated by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

“We’ve seen a slight but troubling increase in tobacco sales to young adults in recent years,” said Joe Harding, director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.

He said state health officials are working with the Division of Liquor Enforcement to develop a more diverse array of products and tools to educate merchants and youth.

According to another survey — Youth Risk Behavior Survey — rates of youth smoking dropped from nearly 30 percent in 2011 to a little more than 17 percent in 2015.