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Six stores busted for selling tobacco to minors 

 tobacco sold to minors

Mission Market in San Miguel was one of six stores caught selling tobacco to minors.

Local stores caught selling tobacco to minors

Mission Market & Deli in San Miguel has second violation

The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program in coordination with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office conducted a recent countywide tobacco sales compliance check operation which ended on July 31, 2013. The enforcement activity utilized underage decoys to regulate illegal sales of tobacco products to minors and resulted in six businesses out of 54 selling to a decoy. That’s a 11-percent illegal sales rate in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The illegal sales rate has doubled from prior compliance monitoring, where in each of those, only three businesses sold unlawfully to the decoy. The compliance checks focused on unincorporated communities including but not limited to San Miguel, Santa Margarita, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos, Avila Beach, Oceano and Nipomo.

The incorporated cities within the county did not participate in these sting operations. With the assistance of two local teen, under age 18, decoys, 54 tobacco retailer locations were visited throughout the county. Six clerks of the 54 retailers illegally sold tobacco to the decoy. Of the six clerks cited for unlawful sales of tobacco products to a minor, only one did not ask for identification and completed the sale. Under Penal Code § 308(a), it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.

The six stores that engaged in the illegal sale of tobacco products to a minor were:

  1. Mesa View Market, 610 Mesa View Drive, Arroyo Grande;
  2. Avila Mercantile and Grocery, 354 Front Street, Avila Beach;
  3. Mission Market & Deli, 1402 Mission Street, San Miguel;
  4. Ralph’s Supermarket, 1320 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos;
  5. Margarita Mercantile, 22304 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita;
  6. Santa Margarita KOA, 4765 Santa Margarita Lake Road, Santa Margarita.

Of the businesses listed, Avila Mercantile & Grocery sustained its third violation; the store having had two prior tobacco sales to a minor violations in 13 months – the first occurring in June 2012, the second in May 2013. The Avila Mercantile & Grocery business entity itself was additionally cited for the tobacco sales violation and for San Luis Obispo County Code § 8.23.180(a)(1) due to repeatedly violating tobacco retailing laws.

Of the remaining stores cited, Mission Market & Deli sustained their second violation – the first occurring in October 2012; Ralph’s Supermarket had their second violation, the first occurring in June 2012; Margarita Mercantile engaged in their second violation, the first occurred in June 2012.

The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program offers an educational program to retailers that include how to refuse a sale, methods to identify an underage buyer and instruction on properly reading an identification card or driver’s license. Retailers are reminded to carefully examine identification presented as five of the latest violations occurred with improper examination or calculation of the decoy’s age listed on the ID. Members of the public or media with questions regarding the sale of tobacco products to minors are encouraged to call the Tobacco Control Program at (805) 781-5564.

Top stories Aug. 3, 2013



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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.