A statewide inspection of retail discount cigarette online 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 online cigarettes outlets in Arizona.

The office also released a new TV and radio public service Announcement that warns cigarettes store retailers of the punishment of selling to minors, a $300 fine personally issued to employees.

Volunteers under the age of 18 are asked to participate in such investigations.

Bertha Adame, 18, got involved because she thinks smoking cigarettes is a nasty habit and something that should be stopped.

Adame did the program when she was 16 and 17. She said that one time, she was able to get six buys of tobacco in just two hours.

Clinton Zeiner, now 18, joined the program when he was 16. He was able to buy tobacco multiple times.

"I was also an athlete. I used to think that this (tobacco use) is going to hurt our team in the long run," he said.

Zeiner said sometimes store employees would check his ID but not do the math for the birth date, while other times, the employees wouldn't even ask for ID.

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