Six stores were recently caught selling tobacco to minors during a sting throughout unincorporated areas of the county—with Avila Mercantile & Grocery earning its third-such violation in 13 months.
Two local underage decoys visited a total of 54 tobacco retailer locations in unincorporated communities including San Miguel, Santa Margarita, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos, Avila Beach, Oceano and Nipomo, according to a recent news release by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
Six clerks sold tobacco to the decoy. Of the six, five improperly examined the identification or did not correctly calculate the decoy's age. Only one did not ask for identification and completed the sale.
It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. The illegal sales rate for the sting ending July 31 was double the rates of the two most recent stings. Only three businesses were cited in each of those.
The six stores that unlawfully sold tobacco to a minor were: Mesa View Market in Arroyo Grande; Avila Mercantile and Grocery in Avila Beach; Mission Market & Deli in San Miguel; Ralph's Supermarket in Los Osos; and Margarita Mercantile and Santa Margarita KOA, both in Santa Margarita.
Avila Mercantile & Grocery sustained its third violation in 13 months, and was additionally cited for repeatedly violating tobacco retailing laws. Mission Market & Deli sustained its second violation since October 2012. Ralph's Supermarket and Margarita Mercantile received their second violations since June 2012.
The compliance check was carried out by the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.