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Multiple stores cited for underage tobacco sales in San Luis Obispo County

Ten stores in San Luis Obispo County were cited for selling tobacco products to underage decoys as part of a county-wide tobacco sales compliance check.

The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office utilized four under-21 volunteers as part of the sting, which concluded on Wednesday.

The tobacco sting focused on unincorporated communities including San Miguel, Santa Margarita, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos, Avila Beach, Oceano and Nipomo.

48 businesses in total were visited. Eleven employees in ten stores were caught selling to the decoys.

The 20.83 percent illegal sales rate is an increase from the most recent compliance check. The program’s all-time high illegal sales rate is 25.93 percent.

In September, the minimum age for purchase of tobacco products in California raised from 18 to 21 years of age.It is a misdemeanor to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Retail clerks with tobacco sales violations are issued a notice to appear and criminally prosecuted through Superior Court. Any business responsible for the violation is subject to administrative penalties including suspension of their ability to retail tobacco and a $1000 fine for each offense. First and second offender business may elect to participate in a diversion program aimed at reducing licensing suspensions in exchange for onsite employee education and point-of-sale upgrades that use technology to prevent future sales.

Stores with no prior violations were:

JJ’s Market at 2792 Halcyon Rd, Arroyo Grande; Cayucos Gas & Mini Mart at 198 N. Ocean Ave, Cayucos; Woodstone Marketplace at 6675 Bay Laurel Dr., Avila Beach.

Stores that received their second violations were:

Nipomo Marketplace Chevron at 501 W. Tefft, Nipomo; San Miguel Chevron at 998 K Street, San Miguel; San Miguel Market & Deli at 1299 Mission St, San Miguel, Shandon.

Stores that received their third violations were:

Paul’s Liquor at 101 N Ocean Ave, Cayucos; Bob & Jan’s Bottle Shop at 2292 Main St, Cambria; Cambria Chevron at 2194 Main St, Cambria.

One store received a fourth violation:

Oceano Market at 1711 Front St, Oceano.

The San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program offers retailer training on how to refuse a sale, methods to identify an underage buyer and instruction on properly reading an identification card or driver’s license. Anyone with questions regarding the sale of tobacco products to minors are encouraged to call the Tobacco Control Program at (805) 781-5564.

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