About 90 percent of all smokers start before the age of 21, according to a new report by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

State laws restricting a minor's access to tobacco may help delay or prevent youths from acquiring the habit in their teens, the report noted.

Currently, 44 states and the District have laws that limit the sale of tobacco to minors, although the legal age for tobacco purchases varies. It is 19 years in three states, 18 in 36 states, 17 in four states and 16 in Virginia and the District.

In addition, 42 states and the District prohibit the free distribution of tobacco products to minors. Seventeen states require that signs specifying the required minimum age be posted at stores where tobacco is sold. Penalties for selling tobacco products to minors include jail sentences and/or fines ranging from $2 in the District to $3,000 in Minnesota.

...............for sale or........sale to.....signs at

...............posession..........minors......point of sale

Alabama.............19............Yes.........No

Alaska..............19............Yes.........No

Arizona.............18............Yes.........No

Arkansas............18............Yes.........No

California..........18............Yes.........Yes

Colorado............18............Yes.........No

Connecticut.........18............Yes.........No

Delaware............17............Yes.........No

D.C.................16............Yes.........No

Florida.............18............Yes.........Yes

Georgia.............17............Yes.........No

Hawaii..............18............Yes.........No

Idaho...............18............Yes.........No

Illinois............18............Yes.........Yes

Indiana.............18............Yes.........Yes

Iowa................18............Yes.........No

Kansas..............18............Yes.........No

Kentucky............No............No..........No

Louisiana...........No............No..........No

Maine...............18............Yes.........Yes

Maryland............18............Yes.........No

Massachusetts.......18............Yes.........Yes

Michigan............18............Yes.........Yes

Minnesota...........18............Yes.........No

Mississippi.........18............Yes.........No

Missouri............No............No..........No

Montana.............No............No..........No

Nebraska............18............Yes.........No

Nevada..............18............Yes.........No

New Hampshire.......18............Yes.........Yes

New Jersey..........18............Yes.........Yes

New Mexico..........No............No..........No

New York............18............Yes.........Yes

North Carolina......17............Yes.........No

North Dakota........18............Yes.........No

Ohio................18............Yes.........Yes

Oklahoma............18............Yes.........No

Oregon..............18............Yes.........No

Pennsylvania........18............Yes.........No

Rhode Island........18............Yes.........Yes

South Carolina......18............Yes.........No

South Dakota........18............Yes.........Yes

Tennessee...........18............Yes.........Yes

Texas...............18............Yes.........Yes

Utah................19............Yes.........No

Vermont.............17............Yes.........Yes

Virginia............16............Yes.........No

Washington..........18............Yes.........No

West Virginia.......18............Yes.........No

Wisconsin...........18............Yes.........Yes

Wyoming.............No............No..........No

Source: Centers for Disease Control