When it got suspicious as to how so many minors in the area were acquiring cigarettes, the El Paso County Sheriffs Dept. in Texas launched an undercover investigation. The investigation targeted local grocery and convenience stores, catching 13 of them in the act
of selling to minors without checking proper ID.
Any stores that are caught selling tobacco to minors, regardless as to if they carded, face $500 in fines. Depending on the severity of the case, stores could even face the threat of being shut down.
The Sheriffs department offers training courses free of charge for local retailers to educate their employees on avoiding tobacco sales to minors. Out of the 13 stores caught, only one of them was enrolled in the course.
According to Sergeant Louie Medina, El Paso County will continue to search and prosecute stores that sell to minors.
“I believe they think we’re not out there,” Medina told KDBC 4 News. “As long as we can go out there and try to prevent the sell of cigarettes to a minor we will continue to do that.”