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CCPD tobacco sting finds every shop in town complies with law

By James Grob,

If you’re a baseball player, 0-for-11 is the start of a really bad week at the plate.

For the Charles City Police Department, however, that’s a good night.

The CCPD conducted a sting operation on Tuesday in an attempt see if any local establishments would break the law and sell tobacco to a minor. None of the businesses did.

“It’s probably a more interesting story if we catch someone, but it’s a better story if we don’t,” said Police Chief Hugh Anderson. The Police Department praised the local clerks and cashiers on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased to announce that no businesses sold,” the message read. “Thank you to our area retailers for helping keep these products out of our children’s hands.”

The police used a minor to attempt to purchase tobacco and vape products from retailers.

“We did compliance checks on every business that has a license in town,” Anderson said. “He wasn’t able to purchase anywhere.”

Anderson said the 0-for-11 day was a pleasant change.

“Usually we get something, unfortunately,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to congratulate all the local businesses.”

Anderson said that the fine for selling tobacco to a minor is expensive, oftentimes for the clerk as well as for the establishment. Additionally, many chains have a zero-tolerance policy — if an employee doesn’t comply with the law, it’s grounds for immediate dismissal.

“On the other hand, the good thing is many companies will reward a cashier if they find out they’ve refused to sell tobacco to a minor,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the CCPD is contracted out with the state to do compliance checks for tobacco twice a year, and that they sometimes do it more often than that. The police use a minor — in this case a 17-year old — to attempt to buy tobacco. When the CCPD does a compliance check for alcohol sales, they use an adult, 18 or over, under the age of 21.

Anderson wouldn’t go into detail as to how they find the person who attempts to buy the tobacco or alcohol, but said the undercover agents are paid for their work.