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COVENTRY, R.I. - Two Rhode Island convenience stores were cited for selling cigarettes to a minor in random Police Department checks.
In each case, a 16-year-old girl entered the store and asked the clerk for a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, according to the Providence Journal. Of 20 retail outlets checked on Jan. 15, the girl was allowed to buy the cigarettes at a DB Mart and an Xtra Mart.
The police conducted similar checks in late December and found that none of the 20 businesses selected sold to an underage customer. Trends in compliance checks show that stores in Coventry have been typically strict about refusing to sell cigarettes to people under 18 years of age, the report said.
Both businesses were issued summonses.
The annual checks are usually financed by a $2,400 state grant. Coventry police hope to use the grant money to increase the frequency of the tests - ideally, to every four to six weeks.
Michael Reeves, president of the Coventry Substance Abuse Task Force, said he supports the police department's effort to increase testing in town. "The more frequently we do it, the more we can ensure compliance," he said.
In addition to the stings, police are working with officials at Coventry High School to find out where underage students are purchasing tobacco products.