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State reaches its highest compliance rate for youth tobacco sales

It is harder than ever for underage youth to illegally buy cigarettes in Minnesota, according to the 2012 federal fiscal year Synar annual report. The 97.6 percent compliance rate is Minnesota's highest on record.

Every year the Minnesota Department of Human Services conducts random inspections of licensed tobacco retailers in Minnesota as part of a national program to check compliance with tobacco age of sale laws.

Enforcement plays a key role in achieving such a compliance rate. During the past federal fiscal 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 for Synar inspections.

"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.

A copy of the Minnesota 2012 Synar report is available on the DHS website.

More information about the Synar program is available at