MADISON, Wis. -

County officials report a 9 percent rate of violations in 2013 for selling tobacco to minors in Dane County.

In 2013, 313 tobacco vendors in Dane County and Madison were tested by the Wisconsin WINS Program, according to a release. Out of the 313 attempts to buy tobacco, 28 vendors sold to minors. The amount of violations is a 4 percent decline from 2012, but the number is still too high, officials said.

Public Health-Madison and Dane County officials said the Wisconsin WINS program consists of 16- and 17-year-old students going into businesses and attempting to buy tobacco. If they are successful, tickets are issued to the employee and the establishment by a public health staffer.

“These results show there is still work to be done, since the illegal sales rate to minors continues to be significant,” Columbia and Dane County Wis. WINS Coordinator Lyle Burmeister said in the release. “While we are pleased with the efforts that many retailers take to help reduce youth access, more needs to be done to lower the rates of sales of tobacco products to minors.”

According to the release, surveys show that 47,000 Wisconsin high school students use tobacco and more than 80 percent of all smokers start before the age of 18.

“The Wisconsin WINS Program is an evidence-based tobacco control program sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and it is on the front line of keeping tobacco out of the hands of underaged youth,” Burmeister said. “We always consider the retailers as key partners in this endeavor.”

Burmeister said the big challenge is to help educate retailers and clerks on the variety of licenses and IDs.