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Minnesota achieves highest tobacco compliance rate

Last year, Minnesota achieved a 99 percent compliance rate, its highest ever, with state and federal laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people younger than 18.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in the U.S., according to human services commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

Under the federal Synar amendment, states are required to conduct annual undercover inspections of its licensed tobacco retailers to check for violations of laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors.

A compliance rate of 80 percent or higher is required for states to receive the federal substance abuse and treatment block grant award.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services is the recipient of the block grant, which amounted to more than $24 million in federal fiscal year 2012. The department is also responsible for administering the tobacco sale inspections.

Minnesota's compliance rate for 2012 is the highest it has been since the Synar Amendment was enacted in 1992. Minnesota's compliance rate for 2010 and 2011 were 95.9 percent and 97.6 percent, respectively.

Minnesota achieved a 69.8 percent compliance rate in 1996, the first year the Synar Amendment went into effect.