Four Local Stores Caught In Vaping Sting
Newtown Police Department conducted a vaping sting this week, and four of 12 businesses where underage young adults attempted to purchase vaping/e-cigarette materials and/or tobacco products failed the test.
Four members of the Danbury Police Cadet program, all under age 21, were utilized in the sting operation. The underage youth were sent into stores in Newtown where tobacco and electronic/vaping products are sold.
It is illegal in Connecticut to sell tobacco or e-cigarette products to anyone under the age of 21. The penalty for doing so carries a $300 fine.
Four locations sold to youth illegally: Brand Cigars, 266 South Main Street, which sold vaping products; Mobil, 62 Church Hill Road (vaping products); Wheels, 47 Church Hill Road (cigarettes); and Wheels, 67 Church Hill Road (vaping products).
In three of the cases, according to Newtown PD, the cadets were not asked for identification.
The following stores asked for identification and did not sell products to the youths: Dodgingtown Craft & Spirits, 57 Dodgingtown Road; Fairgrounds Wine & Spirits, 228 South Main Street; Mitchell Hawleyville Deli & Sunoco, 26 Hawleyville Road; Newtown Convenience, 22 Church Hill Road; Newtown Wine & Spirits, 113 South Main Street; Taunton Wine & Liquor, 147 Mt Pleasant Road; Wheels, 151 South Main Street; and Stop & Shop, 228 South Main Street.
In addition to tickets issued to the clerks who made the sales, the businesses themselves will be referred to the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.
Newtown Police Department Captain Chris Vanghele was disappointed, he told The Newtown Bee the day after the sting, at the results.
“We had done this once before, where we used the State of Connecticut program, back in 2018, and we had only one” store that failed the test, he said. “For us to have four was interesting.”
He was disappointed, he said, “that a business, to make a profit, would sell that kind of product to somebody who is 17, 18, 19 years old.”
Of the four stores that were caught this week, two were not in business three years ago, he did note.
Those businesses, he said, need to be more careful with their hiring and training practices.
“You have to be very careful who you hire, and how you train your employees,” he said. “That person is representing your business.”
Vanghele offered thanks to the eight businesses whose employees acted appropriately. By having employees that obey the law, he said, “they are protecting themselves as a business, but obviously they are also protecting the children.”
The police captain said Newtown PD could not have done this week’s operation without the help of the Danbury Police Department.
“We would also like to thank the Newtown Prevention Council and the Newtown Parent Connection for funding this operation,” he said. “This was truly a collaborative effort done with safety of our children in mind.”
Newtown Parent Connection founder and Executive Director Dorrie Carolan was pleased to work with the Prevention Council to support the police effort.
“We know that there’s so much danger” when young adults vape, she said June 9. “They may not know that, but we know that many people have been hospitalized for heart and lung issues, and respiratory issues. We hope parents will read up on it and educate their children.”
Carolan hopes to return to public forums by the fall, she said. At the top of the list of events to schedule, she said, will be an in-school and a public forum about vaping and its dangers.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.