King County retailers busted for selling tobacco to minors

December 26, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 26, 2012

Throughout 2012, authorities busted King County retailers for selling tobacco to teenagers 92 times.

The illegal sales rate topped 8 percent, a drop from the 12 percent rate last year, but up from the 6 percent average between 2006-10. Statewide, tobacco sales to minors reached a 10-year high at 16 percent.

“Underage access to tobacco fuels addiction and early death for King County’s children,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement.

In Washington, selling tobacco to a minor is prohibited by law, with a $100 fine and tobacco education for the retailer and a $50 fine for the clerk making the sale. Repeat offenders within two years receive fines up to $1,500 and may have tobacco sales licenses revoked.

“The tobacco industry continues to aggressively pursue new smokers, including marketing products that appeal to kids,” Scott Neal, Tobacco Prevention Program Manager for the health agency, said in a statement. “We need to continue working to counter tobacco addiction in our community.”

The health agency and the Washington State Liquor Control Board, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, conduct retailer compliance checks throughout the year.

The checks did not reveal any problems at Issaquah retailers, although Safeway in Sammamish sold tobacco to a minor in April, according to a county report.

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One Response to “King County retailers busted for selling tobacco to minors”

  1. Matt Barry on December 26th, 2012 7:39 am

    On a monthly basis, newspapers should prominently list all retailers who sell tobacco to minors. And for one month after the violation, such retailers should be required to place a large banner on their storefront that says: “We broke the law by selling tobacco, a cancer-causing toxin, to children.” And they should lose their tobacco licenses for a year.

    I bet that would be more effective than $100 fines, which are nothing but slaps on the wrist.

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