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A new government study finds that retailers sold tobacco to minors in the United States 9.3 percent of the time, the lowest rate in 14 years. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) concludes that states have made significant progress in enforcing youth tobacco access laws and in reducing the percentage of retailers who sell tobacco products to minors. In 2009, 10.9 percent of retailers sold tobacco to minors, USA Today reports.

The article notes that the statistics are collected as part of the Synar Amendment Program, a partnership between the federal government and states that is designed to reduce tobacco sales to minors. The Synar Amendment requires random, unannounced inspections of retail outlets selling tobacco. States must have a violation rate of 20 percent or less to be in compliance. Last year was the fifth year in which no state was out of compliance with the Amendment regulations.

The study found that 34 states had violation rates of less than 10 percent in 2010, compared with 22 states in 2009. The report notes that the enactment of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act likely helped reduce tobacco sales to minors in 2010.  The act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009, granted the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health generally and to reduce tobacco use by minors.

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