State officials are changing the way they try to keep businesses from selling tobacco to underage kids. Under the new plan, the Alcoholic Beverages Division will take over compliance checks from the Department of Public Health. Health Department Spokesman Kevin Teale says the change seemed like the natural direction to take the program.The Alcoholic Beverages Division is creating a tobacco enforcement bureau to handle the compliance checks. Five law officers will be hired to coordinate the program statewide. Teale says most other aspects of the operation will stay the same.Teale says the state needs to cut down on the number of underage smokers or risk losing federal funds. He says the state has a compliance rate of 33-percent, while the federal requirement is 20 percent over the next two years. The state plans to put one-point-five million dollars into the new program. State law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from buying tobacco products.
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