Stores sell smokes to teen

"Half of the six stores that were asked sold cigarettes to a minor in a recent compliance check done by the Washington State Liquor Control Board with assistance from the Island County Health Department.Sandy Aikins, a drug prevention specialist with the Health Department, said the check was done countywide on Nov. 20. A 16-year-old boy from Everett was accompanied by Frank Jallegos, a Liquor and Tobacco enforcement agent. The boy entered six establishments that sell cigarettes.Three of those businesses, The Cozy Roadhouse, Nick's Deception Pass Saloon and the Fleet Reserve Assoc., sold cigarettes to the youth. Three others asked for ID and declined to sell cigarettes to the boy. They were the Langley Liquor Store, the Coupeville Liquor Store and the Elger Bay store on Camano Island.The age limit to purchase cigarettes in this state is 18. Aikins said the three clerks who sold the cigarettes to the boy each face a $50 fine. The establishments will receive a warning. Any business that receives three warnings can lose its license to sell tobacco products for six months.Aikins said last year's check had a 100 percent compliance rate in Island County. This is shocking, she said of this year's 50 percent rate. We didn't do too well. The federal government requires states to do random tobacco stings and show at least an 80 percent compliance rate statewide. Falling short could result in fewer federal dollars for substance abuse prevention efforts. The overall state rate last year was 88 percent.Aikins said businesses should pay more attention to the legal age limit for tobacco sales, and publicizing compliance checks helps. Places need to know this is being done, she said.Aikins said laws prohibiting tobacco sales to young people exist for a good reason. Teenagers are the most vulnerable to starting a habit they'll regret, she said. The federal office on Smoking and Health estimates that 3,000 young people start smoking each day. About 50 percent start the habit by age 14, and 25 percent start by age 12. "

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