Minnesota achieved a 99 percent compliance rate with state and federal laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 years old during the 2013 federal fiscal year. Minnesota tied with Nevada for the lowest retailer sale violation rate of one percent, as reported in an annual report recently released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
States are required to conduct annual undercover inspections of licensed tobacco retailers to check for illegal sales of tobacco to minors under the federal Synar law, named for the congressman who sponsored it.
“Curtailing illegal sales of tobacco is a vital step to promoting healthier kids and healthier communities because the smoking habit often starts at an early age,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Minnesota’s high compliance rate shows that retailers are recognizing their responsibility to help keep tobacco out of the hands of people who are under age.”
A compliance rate of 80 percent or higher is required for states to receive their entire federal substance abuse prevention and treatment funds. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is the recipient of those funds, which amounted to more than $23 million in 2013. The department is also responsible for administering the Synar tobacco sale inspections.
This is the seventh consecutive year Minnesota’s compliance rate has been at least 90 percent, significantly up from 69.8 percent in 1996, when Synar reports first started.