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    Four Stores Get "Stung"

    Three Connecticut convenience stores among units busted for selling cigarettes to minors.

    A joint-unit of Newington police and state officials nabbed four convenience stores for selling cigarettes to minors during a sting operation, according to the New Britain (Conn.) Herald.

    Along with members of the state's tobacco compliance unit, police sent a minor into 25 Newington stores that sell tobacco products -- including convenience stores, gas stations and supermarkets -- and issued $200 fines to the clerks who did not ask for identification and sold to the minor.

    Clerks at a DB Mart, Citgo Food Mart, Sunoco APlus Mini Market and an unbranded mom-and-pop convenience store were ticketed, the report said.

    The state also fines the tobacco licensee $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second and third. After a third offense, the department of revenue services can suspend the proprietors license.

    There are approximately 50 establishments in Newington that sell tobacco products, the report said. In the past police have checked them all and found the same number made the illegal sale.

    Following the spot checks, Newington's buy-rate among minors was approximately 16 percent. The state overall had a buy-rate of 17 percent and 18 percent in 1999 and 2000, respectively, considerably lower than its 1996 buy-rate of 70 percent.

    Robert Roy, chief of the state's tobacco compliance unit, said the state is bound by the federal government to achieve a statewide buy-rate of less than 20 percent. An annual buy-rate greater than 20 percent puts federal block grant monies in jeopardy, he added.

    State inspectors and police said they would make repeat checks of Wednesday's violators.

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