by Jordee Kalk: The Arizona Republic/ 12 News Breaking News Team
A statewide inspection of retail tobacco outlets found that on average, employees are selling to minors nearly 15 percent of the time, authorities said Wednesday.
The state Attorney General’s Office released the numbers in a press conference Wednesday.
In Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo and Pinal counties, the number was 25 percent or higher. In Maricopa and Pima counties, it was near the state average.
“Even selling to one child is one too many,” Attorney General Tom Horne said, adding such illegal sales are a more significant problem in rural areas than urban ones.
For the 2011 fiscal year, inspectors went to just under 2,000 retail tobacco outlets in Arizona.
The office also released a new TV and radio public service Announcement that warns tobacco retailers of the punishment of selling to minors, a $300 fine personally issued to employees.