Retail businesses, watch out - if you don't comply with tobacco sales laws, the Milpitas Police are out to catch you.
On Dec. 1, thanks to money from a grant from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Milpitas Police Department conducted a secret, undercover decoy operation aimed at testing local businesses to make sure they are complying with the law and not selling tobacco products to minors.
California Penal Code section 308(a)(1) prohibits the sale of tobacco products and tobacco paraphernalia to anyone under the age of 18. Storeowners and clerks who sell tobacco products to minors in violation of tobacco laws may be subject to citation, criminal prosecution and civil penalties. Retailers may also have their City of Milpitas business license suspended or revoked for violation of these laws.
As part of its decoy operation, Milpitas Police sent a minor into 10 Milpitas businesses that sell tobacco products, to see if the storeowner or clerk would sell products to the minor. The minor was under direct supervision of a police officer at all times.
In this instance, the businesses of Milpitas earned a perfect score, according to Milpitas Police Officer Trish Young-Orth.
"The Milpitas Police Department is delighted to report that each of the contacted retail locations refused to sell tobacco products to the minor, and complied with all applicable laws and ordinances," Young-Orth said.
Following the decoy operation, the businesses were contacted and provided with educational materials about how to remain in compliance with all tobacco laws.
"Retailers were instructed in the proper methods to verify the age of customers, and applicable tobacco laws," Young-Orth explained.
Anyone with any information regarding retailers in violation of tobacco laws is asked to contact the Milpitas Police Department at 408-586-2400. Information can also be given anonymously by calling the crime tip hotline at 408-586-2500, or via the Milpitas Police Department website.