King County publishes tobacco retailers caught selling to minors in 2012

From Jan. 1 until Dec. 5 of 2012, tobacco retailers in King County were caught selling to minors 92 times, according to a King County press release detailing those businesses busted in the act, including four in West Seattle.

“Underage access to tobacco fuels addiction and early death for King County’s children,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for King County/Seattle Public Health in a statement.

Public Health works with the Washington State Liquor Control Board and local law enforcement to set up stings where teenagers attempt to purchase tobacco from King County retailers, either selected at random or chosen based on prior violations.

According to Public Health, “In Washington state, selling tobacco to a minor is prohibited by law, with a $100 fine and tobacco education for the retailer and a $50 fine for the clerk making the sale. Repeat offenders within two years are fined up to $1500 and may have their tobacco sales license revoked.”

The battle is also one waged against tobacco industry marketing. Public Health states the industry spent $80 million marketing tobacco in Washington State in 2010, and continues to introduce products to the market that target kids, including “dissolvable tobacco that resembles gum, candy and breath-strips, mini-cigars and snus (teabag-like pouches of tobacco) in flavors such as chocolate, strawberry and grape.”

"The tobacco industry continues to aggressively pursue new smokers, including marketing products that appeal to kids. We need to continue working to counter tobacco addiction in our community," Scott Neal, Tobacco Prevention Program Manager for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement.

According to King County, one in four 12th graders in the county use tobacco, and tobacco use “remains among the leading causes of death in King County, leading to nearly 2,000 deaths per year and $343 million in medical care costs, lost productivity and other expenses.”

King County released the names of retailers caught selling tobacco to minors in 2012 (* a full list is provided as a PDF up top). Locally, they include:

Delridge Deli Mart (3861 Delridge Way S.W.)

Rite Aid (5217 California Ave S.W.)

Safeway Fuel (4115 Admiral Way S.W.)

Safeway Store (2622 California Ave S.W.)

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.