While last month, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office was pleased with the fact that no single merchant in the county had findings during the tobacco sting, they were significantly less pleased with October’s results.
As of Sept. 1, the legal age to purchase tobacco changed from 18 to 21. It is the responsibility of each retailer to verify the age of the buyer by checking their ID.
Undercover officers regularly travel the county with juvenile decoys, who attempt to purchase cigarettes from various vendors. “Four out of 12 stores sold to our decoy,” said Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Price, regarding October’s tobacco sting.
The sale of tobacco to anyone under the legal age affects more than just the vendor.
The first $500 ticket issued will go directly to the clerk that completed the transaction.
The state will be given citation information from RCSO, and will, subsequently, issue a fine to the store. The store will be put on probationary status.
If the shop sells to any underage person twice more within six months they will lose their permit to sell tobacco products, indefinitely.
“Our Rusk County retailers need to remember that the law has changed and check the ID of every person asking for tobacco products,” Price said, “You never know when we’re going to walk in your store.”