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N.M. Reduces Tobacco Sales To Youth

Associated Press
      SANTA FE — Illegal tobacco sales to minors have dropped in New Mexico since last year, Health Department Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday.
    New Mexico reduced its rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors from 14.8 percent last fiscal year to 6.4 percent this fiscal year, according to a study that evaluated a statewide program aimed at reducing illegal sales by educating merchants that it's unlawful to sell tobacco products to anyone under age 18.
    The Health Department said the drop was due to consistent and increased community-based education to merchants and to increased enforcement of the law.
    "This tells us that merchant education is an effective approach to reducing the sale of tobacco products to underage people,'' Grisham said. "It also shows that most merchants take the law seriously and are concerned about the health of young people in their communities.''
    New Mexico ranked in the top 10 for reducing its rate of tobacco sales to young people, the agency said.
    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said that nationwide, the violation rate for underage tobacco sales dropped from about 40 percent in 1996 to about 12 percent in 2004.
    The federal government requires states to keep the violation rate below 20 percent.