Tobacco sales to minors continue in Chautauqua County stores

MAYVILLE – Two Chautauqua County businesses violated the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act in 2012 by selling tobacco products to minors. According to the Chautauqua County Health Department, three operators were cited during the same time period in 2011.

More than 150 inspections of tobacco retailers were conducted by the Health Department during 2012. These inspections were unannounced compliance checks where minors attempted to purchase tobacco under the direct supervision of the enforcement official. The Health Department also made 117 visits to businesses to determine compliance with signage and registration requirements. Two enforcement actions were taken for sales of tobacco products to minors and $1,600 in fines were assessed at the following retail locations:

Wilson Farms 387, 510 N. Main St., Jamestown violation date April 10

Hogan’s Hut Ltd., 3503 Old Bridge Road, Stow violation date April 10

In order to comply with the law vendors must:

Keep all tobacco products and herbal cigarettes behind a counter in an area accessible only to employees or in a locked container.

Sell tobacco and herbal cigarettes only to people who are 18 years of age or older.

Post a sign that customers can easily see that reads: “Sales of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, shisha or other tobacco products, herbal cigarettes, electric cigarettes, rolling papers or smoking paraphernalia to persons under 18 years of age is prohibited by law.”

Not sell single cigarettes. All cigarettes must be sold in the manufacturer’s packaging.

“The goal of ATUPA is to decrease tobacco use and dependence by minors in our county since research has documented that most adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18 and half of them before the age of 15,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health & Human Services. “Given the devastating health effects of tobacco use, we must do all we can to keep our youth from ever starting,” added Schuyler.

Effective Jan. 1, the sale of electronic cigarettes is prohibited to individuals less than 18 years of age. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. The safety of e-cigarettes has not been fully studied and consumers have no way of knowing how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemical are being inhaled. It is also not known if e-cigarettes may lead young people to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease an may lead to premature death.

The Health Department is responsible for enforcing ATUPA under the New York State Tobacco Control Program. This law requires retailers to obtain positive proof that the person buying cigarettes is over the age of 18. Retailers found in violation of this law are subject to fines and loss of their tobacco registration and lottery license for repeated violations.

To receive more information or file a complaint about an establishment selling tobacco products to minors, contact the Chautauqua County Health Department at 753-4481.