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Report: Underage tobacco sales at record lows

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - New statistics show that the sale of tobacco to minors in the U.S. were held near all-time lows last year under a federal-state inspection program intended to curb underage usage.

A federal report issued Tuesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says that the rate of retail tobacco sales to underage users nationwide has fallen from about 40 percent in 1997, to 9.1 percent in the last fiscal year. Those figures come from random inspections of stores to see whether they'd sell tobacco to a customer under the age of 18.

A U.S. Surgeon General's report issued last year found that more needs to be done to prevent young Americans from using tobacco, including stricter smoking bans and higher taxes on tobacco products. According to that report, almost one in five high school-aged teens smokes. That's down from earlier decades, but the rate of decline has slowed.


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