Sales of tobacco to minors in the U.S. reached an all-time low in 2011 under a federal and state inspection program intended to curb underage tobacco use, according to a report released Thursday. The violation rate of tobacco sales to underage youth at retailers nationwide has fallen from about 40 percent in 1997 to 8.5 percent in the last fiscal year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
The rate is based on the results of random, unannounced inspections conducted at stores to see whether they'd sell tobacco products to a customer under the age of 18. In March, the U.S. Surgeon General said more needs to be done to keep young Americans from using tobacco, including new bans and increased taxes on tobacco products. It was the first comprehensive look at youth tobacco use from the surgeon general's office in nearly two decades. That point was driven home in a separate report Thursday from another federal agency.
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