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Minors Buying Tobacco at All-Time Low

A new study finds that U.S. retailers sold tobacco to minors only 9.3 percent of the time.
June 29, 2011

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Minors purchasing tobacco products dropped to a record low last year, after an increase in 2009, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), USA Today reports.

The study discovered that minors bought tobacco products from U.S. retailers only 9.3 percent of the time in 2010, a decline from the 10.9 percent in 2009. Last year��s percentage is the lowest in more than a dozen years.

"It's really good to see the rate go down, especially after it went up last year," said Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Thirty-four states logged violation rates of under 10 percent last year, an increase from 2009, when 22 states had rates of less than 10 percent. However, minors buying tobacco went up in 14 states, with New Hampshire, Maryland and Idaho, which had some of the highest violation rates.

Susan Marsiglia Gray with SAMHSA pointed to the struggling economy as partly to blame because states had to slash underage tobacco enforcement initiatives, which could have triggered more sales to minors. "States really need to take a comprehensive approach in reducing youth tobacco use," she said.

States with a reduced violation rate usually have programs that educate retailers and communities, including parents, on the dangers of selling tobacco to minors.