An annual report that tracks illegal sales shows about 16 percent, or nearly one out of every six tobacco retailers in our state sold tobacco to minors from January to June of this year.
That's up from 11 percent in 2011, and 10 percent in 2010.
Tim Church with the state Health Department says clerks and stores face big fines if they're caught selling tobacco to minors.
Each year, teens working undercover with local law enforcement try to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products at randomly selected retailers.
Our state could lose nearly $14 million in federal funding for drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention and treatment if the rate of retailers selling tobacco to minors exceeds 20 percent.
Statewide, there are about 70,000 teens who still smoke cigarettes.