Web Smoke Dealers Ban Minor Sales
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Four Internet-based tobacco dealers have agreed not to sell their products to minors after an undercover investigation found children as young as 8 bought cigarettes by mail, Oregon's attorney general said Monday.
Three dealers have signed agreements, which were filed circuit court Monday. The fourth has agreed to the terms and an agreement will be filed in court later this week, Attorney General Hardy Myers said. None of the dealers admitted breaking any laws.
Under the agreement, a dealer caught selling tobacco products to minors could be fined as much as $25,000 for each instance - 50 times the state's maximum $500 penalty for selling tobacco products to minors.
The undercover operation by the state Justice Department was coordinated with similar investigations in 13 other states.
The illegal sales in Oregon focused on ``bidis,'' which are hand-rolled and imported cigarettes with flavors such as chocolate, wild cherry and mango. With state investigators supervising, children were asked to try to buy bidis over the Internet and by telephone.
Several sellers required no proof of age, Myers said, and an 8-year-old was able to get home delivery of cigarettes along with a lighter with a ``Keep Away from Children'' warning on it.
The dealers that signed the pacts were Ziggy's Tobacco & Novelty of Worcester, Mass.; Durango Smoke Shop of Durango, Colo.; and Calabash Habana Cigar Cafe of Portland, Maine.
Uptown Cigar Co. of Kingston, N. Y., accepted the terms and plans to sign the agreement, Myers said.