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Teenagers who help police catch store owners who sell tobacco to minors may soon be out of a job in Maine, which boasts the highest percentage of underage smokers in the country.
A bill to prevent the state from using juveniles in undercover tobacco stings was passed by the state this week, despite estimates that Maine could lose $2.5 million in federal grant money, according to the Portland Press Herald.
But supporters said teaching teenagers improper values wasn't worth any amount of money. Rep. William Schneider, R-Durham, said putting minors undercover in tobacco stings was exploitative and dangerous. "It teaches children situational ethics. It teaches them that sometimes it's right to do something wrong," he said.
All 50 states currently use juveniles to help enforce laws governing tobacco sales, the report said. It's illegal in Maine for children under 18 to smoke or for others to sell them tobacco.
The Department of Health and Human Services has used undercover youths for more than 10 years to help discourage underage sales.