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    Minnesota Retailers Improving

    Compliance with tobacco laws still not 100 percent.

    MINNEAPOLIS -- The Albert Lea Police Department conducted a citywide tobacco compliance check last week with promising results. Out of 34 businesses checked, five illegally sold tobacco to a minor.

    The number dropped from seven at the last check conducted in October. Only one of the five businesses cited last week had a previous illegal sale within the past 24 months, according to The Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune.

    Retail clerks who sell tobacco to minors are issued misdemeanor citations for the first violation, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine. A second violation by the same clerk within a five-year period constitutes a gross misdemeanor violation.

    In addition to clerks being charged, business owners can be assessed an administrative penalty up to $250 and a seven-day suspension of their tobacco license.

    Tobacco use among minors in the state has been dropping recently, the report said. Lawmakers attribute the decline to the compliance checks authorized by state law since 1997.

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