Two local businesses were cited for selling tobacco products to minors during a compliance check Wednesday by the Gillette Police Department (GPD).
Family Dollar and Common Cents Store were two of 28 businesses inspected to ensure vendors are carding patrons to verify that they are of legal age of 18 or older to purchase tobacco or tobacco-related products per Wyoming State Statute 14-3-307, GPD Lt. Brent Wasson told press Thursday.
During the inspection, it was discovered that the Family Dollar and Common Cents Store, both located on Highway 59, did not properly verify the age of a GPD decoy, resulting in a citation for each vendor that includes a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to $100.
“Our inspections typically involve at least one sworn officer and the underage decoy,” Wasson stated in an email Thursday, adding that the underage decoy is supervised throughout the inspection by GPD staff.
“We utilize a list from the State of Wyoming for businesses which sell tobacco and restricted tobacco products,” Wasson said. “The Department has (a) zero tolerance (policy) on the sale of tobacco to minors and every violation results in a citation.”
The legal age for purchasing tobacco products was muddied for states like Wyoming following President Donald Trump’s signing of a federal law in December raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21. The new law targets a rise in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products among children and young adults, which the American Medical Association has called a “public health epidemic” and has been described as a “youth access issue.”
A similar bill brought forth during this past Wyoming Legislative Session failed to pass, for now, making it legal for a person between 18 and 20 to purchase and possess tobacco and tobacco-related products in the state.