Racine County retailers show vigilance in under age tobacco sales checks

Racine County retailers did well when placed under scrutiny for tobacco sales to minors.

The Kenosha-Racine-Walworth Tobacco-Free Coalition said local law enforcement and undercover youth decoys conducted the compliance buys over a three-month period last fall. In Racine County, the youthful buyers were turned down 71 times in 73 attempted buys.

In Kenosha County, undercover buyers were turned away every time at 80 different establishments. In Walworth County, 50 attempts resulted in six sales.

Yazlyn Torres, coordinator for the local coalition, suggested the high compliance rate means retailers are taking their jobs seriously, following the letter of the law when it comes to selling to minors.

Wisconsin law says selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal. No exceptions. Those products include cigarettes, e-cigarettes that contain nicotine, cigars, rolling papers containing tobacco, chewing tobacco, and loose tobacco.

Retailers can face fines up to $500 even if they have had no violations in the previous year. If they have had a previous violation in the past year, the fines can increase. Citations issued to the retailer as well as the clerk.
Violations can also lead to license suspensions of up to 30 days.

Retail clerks selling tobacco should consistently card anyone who looks under the age of 27 and to refuse the sale of tobacco product without proper verification of age, according to the three-county coalition No-cost training for anyone selling tobacco products is available at WITobaccoCheck.org.

Dangerous to your health

The coalition notes that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Approximately one out of every 13 youths who are17 or younger smoke. Ata the current rate, 5.6 million are expected to die early from a smoking-related illness.

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Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.