Staff cut at alcohol, tobacco control agency

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri is making significant cuts to the number of employees enforcing laws on underage drinking and smoking.

The state budget approved by lawmakers cuts more than $1 million from the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. That will reduce the agency's full-time employees from 41 down to 17.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety said some criminal enforcement work currently done by the state will have to shift to local police and sheriffs.

The state, for example, currently gets federal funds to do undercover checks on whether retailers are selling cigarettes or alcohol to minors. Local law enforcement now may be responsible for conducting those federally funded compliance checks.