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Teen Smoking Targeted in Indiana

A yearlong effort at curbing tobacco sales to minors in Indiana is paying off, but state officials say it's only part of a more comprehensive strategy needed to reduce teen smoking.

The Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency plans to begin an extensive, anti-tobacco media campaign combined with community events in early fall. Much of it will be funded with proceeds from the national tobacco settlement, according to the Associated Press.

The state already has stepped up enforcement of the law banning the sale of tobacco products to those under age 18.

Last month marked the first full year of the Tobacco Retailer Inspection Program, which is overseen by the Family and Social Services Administration's Division of Mental Health and Addiction. Under the program, youth ages 15 to 17 work with off-duty police officers and try to purchase tobacco products at stores across the state.

When violations occur, fines are levied not only against the store owners, but also the clerks who sold the products. Civil penalties range from $50 for a first offense to $500 for a fourth one.

Since the program's inception in May 2000, more than 4,700 retailer inspections have occurred. Violation rates have fallen from an initial high of 41 percent to about 27 percent now, the report said.
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