Undercover stings help health officials enforce new age limit for smokers

Hawaii is one of just five states that require you to be 21 in order to purchase tobacco products.

It’s been over a year since the state raised the minimum age.

Have businesses been following the rules?

The Department of Health, University of Hawaii, along with local law enforcement are working to make sure tobacco products stay out of the hands of minors.

Hawaii is one of the only states where you have to be 21 to purchase tobacco products, from cigarettes to e-cigarette liquid.

To make sure these products are only purchased by people over 21, teams of undercover officers and their underage accomplices conduct stings operations weekly.

From July 2015 to June 2016, over 1,000 sting operations were conducted with 40 clerks getting a citation.

But according to Rebecca Schweitzer with the University of Hawaii, retailers are paying attention to the new law. “We inspect every single retailer on the island around the state that has a tobacco permit and we actually go out with the police and do undercover buys, and if there is a by the merchant will get cited right away by the police. Just preliminary data we are finding that merchants to seem pretty educated about that law and they do still ask for identification for those that look a little bit older.”

State money is used to pay officer overtime. Recently, $41,000 was awarded to the program.

 

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