PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Health Department is hosting a pair of Certified Tobacco Sales Training sessions in February.
The sessions are designed to help employees of businesses that sell tobacco products understand the laws pertaining to the illegal sale of tobacco to minors.
“In 2012, the state rate (for sale of tobacco products to minors) was at 5 percent,” said Susan Thew, senior public-health sanitarian for the Health Department. “Our county rate was 8 percent (of the number of businesses that sell tobacco products). We’d like to bring that number down.”
Clerks who attend the training will learn about the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act and why they should never sell products to anyone underage.
The training will also reduce any fines and protect stores from losing their tobacco licenses for repeat offenses.
“A (tobacco-sales) license will be suspended for six months when a business receives three or more points (in penalties for selling to minors),” said Jason Redmond, a public-health technician who oversees teenage-sales checks across the county.
“If an illegal tobacco sale is made by a clerk who has successfully completed this training, the store will only receive half of the (penalty) points normally levied.”
The Health Department conducts annual youth-compliance checks at more than 100 county businesses that sell tobacco products.
Redmond or another adult employee at the Health Department works with teenage shoppers who attempt to purchase a tobacco product without proper identification. The teenager, who is also an employee of the Health Department, does not carry ID but cannot lie about his or her age.
“They don’t try to look older or dress older,” Redmond said. “It’s a completely sanitized process.”
If the store sells a product illegally to the shopper, the teenager will return to the store with the adult employee with a citation for the illegal sale.