By Caroline Newsom
Three local businesses failed Wright County tobacco sales compliancy checks conducted recently.
Two Cokato businesses were out of compliance, Lake Region Coop and Niesen’s Off Sale Liquor, as well as the Clark Gas Station in Montrose.
This is Lake Region Coop’s third offense, which means it will be fined $250 and lose its license to sell tobacco for seven days.
For Neisen’s Off Sale Liquor of Cokato and Clark Gas Station of Montrose, this will be the first offense for both. This means the business will be fined $75 as well as another $75 fine given to the clerk who sold the cigarettes to the minor.
Other businesses who failed in Wright County include: Clearwater Travel Plaza Fuel Center (first offense), Tom Thumb of Hanover (second offense), Riverview Liquorette of Ostego (first offense), Rogers’ Amoco of Maple Lake (first offense), Casey’s General Store of Rockford (second offense), Woody’s on Main of Rockford (first offense), Hi Way Liquors of Monticello (second offense), Super America of Monticello (second offense), CVS pharmacy of Delano (first offense), and Quik Shop 66 of Delano (second offense), Market Place of St. Michael (first offense), Clark Gas Station of Montrose (first offense), and Up the Creek Bar & Grill of Silver Creek (first offense).
The penalty for a first offense will be a fine of $75 to the clerk who served and another to the business. A second time offense in a two year period will result in a $200 fine to the business and a third time offense will result in a fine of at least $250 and the business loses its license to sell tobacco for seven days.
“Somehow they’re not getting the picture,” said Joel Torkelson of Wright County Public Health.
Illegal sales took place in 15 out of the 84 businesses, which shows an 18 percent failure rate for Wright County.
Howard Lake and Annandale are not a part of the county compliance checks as they have their own police departments.
These tobacco compliancy checks are performed using volunteer teens. They simply walk into an establishment with their valid ID and money, asking for cigarettes while an officer waits outside.
While the results of the tobacco check show that some businesses need to take this issue more seriously, the majority of Wright County businesses do follow the law and refuse to sell tobacco to customers under 18 years old, said Torkelson.