Tobacco sting nabs Unalaska merchants

Posted: Monday, September 10, 2001

UNALASKA (AP) -- A tobacco sting nabbed nearly all of the merchants contacted in Unalaska late last month, with most stores reportedly caught selling cigarettes to an underage buyer.

Of 12 local businesses contacted, Unalaska police say 10 of them sold to a visiting teenager who was posing as a customer. Alaska state law prohibits tobacco sales to anyone under age 19. Penalties can include individual fines of as much as $300 and suspension of licenses to sell tobacco.

Police and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services say they hope the citations will serve as a wake-up to merchants whose tobacco sales policies have become lax.

The operation took place on Aug. 25, when a teenage boy was flown to Unalaska to pose as a cigarette buyer. Tobacco enforcement officials say the operation was paid for by a federal grant.

In a similar program last year, 61 percent of rural vendors sold to underage buyers. That compared to just 25 percent in urban areas.

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