New York Retailers to Face "Stings"

BUFFALO -- The Town of Tonawanda Police Department has entered for the fifth consecutive year into an agreement with the Erie County Health Department to reduce illegal tobacco sales to buyers younger than 18.

Under the program, underage decoys supervised by police officers will visit each of the tobacco product dealers in town, said Police Chief Samuel Palmiere. The decoys will try to buy cigarettes, and in any instance where an illegal sale is made, the police officer will inform the vendor and refer the case to the Erie County Department of Health for administrative action. Decoys will be 16 or younger and will not use any false identification or engage in any deceit to make the purchase, Palmiere said. If asked their ages, they will respond truthfully, he told the Buffalo News.

Fines for initial violations are as much as $1,000. Subsequent violations can result in fines of up to $1,500 and the suspension or revocation of the ability to sell tobacco and lottery tickets, officials said.

In addition to penalties imposed on the store owner, the actual person who sells the tobacco to a minor will be subject to arrest.
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