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Report: Underage tobacco sales continue to fall

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Sales of tobacco to minors in the U.S. reached an all-time low in 2011 under a federal-state inspection program intended to curb underage tobacco smoking.

A federal report issued Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says that the rate of tobacco sales to underage youth at retailers nationwide has fallen from about 40 percent in 1997 to 8.5 percent in the last fiscal year.

The numbers follow a U.S. Surgeon General's report issued in March that said more work needs to be done to keep young Americans from using tobacco, including new smoking bans and increased taxes on tobacco products. According to that report, almost one in five high school-aged teens smokes. That's down from earlier decades, but the rate of decline has slowed.