Youth Tobacco Sales

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U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The national rates of tobacco sales to minors showed a slight increase this past year, after declining every year since 1997.

During fiscal 2009, the rate rose to 10.9 percent from 9.9 percent in 2008, SAMHSA said. (The rate indicates the percentage of inspected retail outlets that sold tobacco products to a customer under 18.) That’s still far less than the rate of 40.1 percent rate in 1997, when SAMHSA began tracking the sales in compliance with the Synar Amendment to the Federal Public Health Service Act, which requires states to conduct unannounced inspections of retail tobacco outlets to determine if laws against sales to minors are enforced.

North Dakota (1.6 percent), Delaware (2.8 percent) and Mississippi (3.8 percent) showed the three lowest rates of tobacco sales to minors. The three highest rates came from Oregon (18.8 percent), Oklahoma (17.9 percent) and West Virginia (17.9 percent).

The report attributed the increase last year to a shortage of state funding for enforcement inspections as a result of a struggling economy.

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