Tobacco sting snares market

TREMONT — McKinley Market is prohibited from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products for a 30-day period after the store, through its attorney, admitted in December to selling cigarettes to a 16-year-old girl.

The 30-day suspension began Feb. 1. Along with the suspension, the store was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and $310 in surcharges for a total of $1,810.

The matter was heard in Machias District Court.

Ellsworth attorney Jeff Toothaker, who represented McKinley Market and owner Sheryl Harper, said Tuesday that the girl who purchased the cigarettes did so as part of a sting operation by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

In the case of McKinley Market, a new employee was busy at the time and failed to go through the proper procedure to check the girl’s age, Toothaker said.

“The owner wasn’t there and wasn’t aware of the issue until later,” he said.

Along with the suspension and fines, the market is to implement safeguards that include employee training on the sale of tobacco and installation of software that prohibits tobacco products from being sold without a proper date of birth being entered. These measures already were in place at the time of the violation and were circumvented by the new employee, Toothaker said.

The court also ordered the market to conduct internal compliance checks using an anonymous person under the age of 27 on a monthly basis for a period of two years. The person is to attempt to purchase tobacco without using photographic identification and the results of the checks are to be reported to either the attorney general’s office or the DHHS tobacco enforcement coordinator.

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Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander