Local law enforcement agencies are launching a new round of tobacco checks this week at the six thousand retailers across Iowa. A new state program will pay police departments 50-dollars every time they check a vendor for illegal tobacco sales.Lynn Walding is administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, which is spearheading the anti-smoking effort. Police will be sending underage people into convenience stores and other retailers, trying to see if they can purchase tobacco products. Walding says Iowa is closing in on its goal of zero-tolerance for retailers selling tobacco to minors.Walding says about one in three Iowa retailers were selling tobacco to minors in a check last year. He says that number has to be further trimmed, from 33 to 20-percent, or the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funds.A state report finds 37-percent of Iowa teens say they use tobacco products. Employees of three thousand Iowa retailers are taking courses over the Iowa Communications Network this week on the tobacco laws and sales procedures. The new statewide sting program will run from December through June.
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