Smokin' Joe's Cigar Shop, 240 First St., Niagara Falls, was recently penalized for tobacco products sold to a minor at some point from Jan. 1 to June 30.
The Niagara County Department of Health and the Niagara County Sheriff's Office have been conducting tobacco compliance checks throughout Niagara County since July 1, 1999. Every facility that sells tobacco to the public receives a compliance check, including all vending machine operations. Under the supervision of an adult, compliance checks are conducted by 16- and 17-year-olds who attempt to purchase tobacco products without identification and by being truthful about their age.
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 67 compliance checks were conducted. Smokin' Joe's Cigar Shop was the only facility that had enforcement action finalized for violations in which tobacco products were sold to minors during this time period, according to the health department. This was the first violation.
A total $750 in penalties was assessed for the violation and the facility was required to conduct employee training and educational programs monitored by the health department. Penalties for each violation can range from $350 to $2,500.
All compliance checks are conducted in accordance with Niagara County's Youth Tobacco Enforcement and Prevention Agreement with the New York State Department of Health under the authority of the New York State Public Health Law dealing with tobacco enforcement.
According to the Niagara County health department, the county's non-compliance rate is 3.5 percent, compared to the statewide noncompliance rate of 4.99 percent for the time period between Oct. 1, 2010, and March 12, 2012.