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PHOENIX -- After nine months and 500 inspections, state and federal officials have handed out warnings to 19 tobacco retailers. The statewide inspections are part of a crackdown on selling cigarettes to minors.
The Food and Drug Administration, working with the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS), issued warnings for violating tobacco-control laws to almost 4 percent of the businesses that were inspected, the Arizona Republic reported.
"It's just like alcohol. You have to be a certain age to buy tobacco, but some clerks don't get the message in training or just plain forget to check IDs," DHS Director Will Humble said in a statement. "Our goal with this contract is for all people who sell tobacco to not let kids buy it."
The state DHS began a one-year contract to conduct the inspections with the FDA in September. In turn, the federal agency will reimburse the state up to $475,000 for pursuing "aggressive statewide enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act marketing, labeling and advertising regulations," health department spokeswoman Laura Oxley told the newspaper.
The state has three employees working full time on the inspection process. They also work with underage individuals who go into stores and try to buy cigarettes.
If the retailers are found in violation again they face sanctions, ranging from civil penalties and injunctions to criminal charges.