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    Minnesota Compliance Rate Rises

    State exceeds goal for preventing tobacco sales to minors.

    ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota retailers comply with laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors 85 percent of the time, exceeding the 80 percent goal established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

    The Minnesota Department of Health determined the compliance rate by using undercover, and underage, decoys who attempted to buy tobacco products from 860 vendors across the state in July and August.

    Meeting or exceeding the federal goal is important, because federal grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment can be reduced by as much as 40 percent if a state fails to meet its goal.

    Minnesota fell short of the goal in 1998. After that, the state decided to commit an additional $2.1 million to enforce laws meant to keep tobacco out of the hands of underage users. The 85 percent compliance rate this year means that the state avoids a penalty and will receive about $2.7 million from the federal government for substance abuse and prevention programs.

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