On July 9, 2010, the Longview Police Department conducted a tobacco sting to test the compliance of Longview area tobacco retailers in regards to Texas tobacco laws. The undercover stings utilized 14-16 year old minors, accompanied by Longview Police Officers, who entered stores and attempted to purchase tobacco products. The stings are funded through a grant issued by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
The Texas Health and Safety Code states that it is unlawful for a person to sell, give or cause to be sold or given a cigarette or tobacco product to someone who is younger than 18 years of age. A violation of this statute is punishable as a class C misdemeanor and the fine is over $500.00.
The undercover officer/minor teams went to 112 Longview area tobacco retailers and of those, 12 retailers sold tobacco to the undercover minors. The locations that sold the tobacco products were:
1. Food Fast #22, 1101 McCann Road
2. OXXO, 301 S. Mobberly Avenue
3. Food Fast #24, 2851 N. Eastman Road
4. Zippy J’s No. 5, 2001 N. Eastman Road
5. La Michoacana Meat Market #20, 1419 S. Green Street
6. Cowboys Quick Stop #10, 3601Gilmer Road
7. Brookshire Food Store #45, 3354 Gilmer Road
8. Murphy USA # 7086, 2430 Gilmer Road
9. Mr. C’s, 2578 Alpine Road
10. Food Fast #25, 2300 Gilmer Road
11. Smart Stop, 1721 E. State Hwy 31
12. Lone Star, 2401 H.G Moseley Parkway
Citations were issued to the clerk at each location that sold tobacco to the undercover minor and the clerk will have to appear at the Longview Municipal Court to resolve the citation.
Undercover tobacco and alcohol stings have proven to be an effective means of protecting Longview youth by encouraging compliance with Texas laws and will continue on a random basis in the future.