The Food and Drug Administration says it has issued about 1,200 warning letters to tobacco retailers in 15 states since it began inspections under a 2009 law giving the agency authority to regulate the industry.

The agency's Center for Tobacco Products, using state contractors, has conducted more than 27,500 inspections of stores that sell tobacco products. Inspectors look for violations of federal laws barring the sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products to anyone under 18 years old, the sale of flavored cigarettes, or of packs of cigarettes containing words like "light,""mild," or "low-tar."

Most of the citations were for selling tobacco to minors. Retailers have to tell the FDA how they will address the problem. They can be fined for violations during follow-up inspections.