MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota had it best year yet when it comes to stopping sales of cigarettes to underage smokers.
Each year the Minnesota Department of Human Services does random inspections of licensed tobacco retailers in the state as part of a national program to make sure they aren’t selling to youth and are following tobacco age of sale laws.
According to the 2012 Synar annual report, state retailers had a 97.6 percent compliance rate — Minnesota’s highest on record.
Enforcement of the law is why the state was able to get such a high rate. Often, officers escort teens who volunteer to attempt to buy cigarettes from stores. If a store sells to the youth without a valid ID or no ID, they get a citation and fine.
During the past year, law enforcement issued 591 citations and 579 fines to store owners and clerks; and 2,394 citations, fines and warnings to minors.
There were 19 tobacco permits suspended due to tobacco violations. During the year, there were 286 retailers randomly selected across the state.
“This high compliance rate is a tremendous accomplishment for businesses across Minnesota and one that will play a huge role in preventing young people from taking up the tobacco habit,” said Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Over the long term, Minnesota will be healthier for this effort.”
States that do not meet federal standards regarding youth tobacco sales are at risk of losing a significant portion of their Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
To see a copy of the Minnesota 2012 Synar report, go to the DHS website.