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    Iowa Retailers Improving

    Tobacco compliance rising in Story County.

    AMES, Iowa -- A report released by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division shows tobacco compliance is on the rise throughout Iowa as retailers statewide are not selling tobacco products to minors.

    Story County had the highest compliance rate increase from last year jumping 5 percent 91 percent for the first part of 2002. Just one citation was issued over the past two months to a convenience store in the county, the Ames (Iowa) Tribune reported.

    The report indicated 81 of 82 tobacco retail outlets in the county had been checked since September 2001. Seven citations were issued to retailers for selling tobacco products to minors in that period.

    In nearby counties, Boone had a 90 percent compliance rate, Polk 83 percent, Jasper 77 percent, Marshall 83 percent, Hardin 78 percent and Hamilton 95 percent.

    The statewide average was 87 percent compliance. The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division said retailers in 11 Iowa counties achieved a 100 percent compliance rate by refusing to sell cigarettes to minors.

    "To date, this is the single highest compliance rate achieved since the state began tracking tobacco compliance in 1994," said Lynn Walding, the administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. "The 87 percent compliance rate is a noticeable improvement and a far cry from the state's low-water mark set in 1995 with a dismal 50 percent compliance rate."

    Retailers caught selling tobacco products to underage buyers are subject to administrative sanctions against their tobacco permit. The sanctions include a $300 fine for first offense, with subsequent violations resulting in progressive 30-day and 60-day suspensions of their permits, the report said.

    Clerks are subject to a simple misdemeanor citation and progressive fines of $100, $250 and $500. Minors in possession of tobacco products are subject to a $50 fine and eight hours of community service for the first offense.

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