Buffalo Police Chief Jason Carder reported to the city council at their meeting Tuesday that during recent compliance checks at local retail establishments, four of fourteen sold tobacco products to minors.
That is just under a 29% failure rate.
Carder gives more details on the compliance checks.
Buffalo City Ordinance does allow fines for the failures, but there isn't a set fine, other than the state guideline of $50, which many on the council, as well as Municipal Judge Mary Hupy feel is too low and not a deterrent.
Hupy said Buffalo is probably setting a precedent by setting a fine schedule because not many municipalities have them for the offense. She has contacted other judges in the state for their opinions and will be making a decision on the fines in the near future.
A fine along with a class for the retailers was how she was leaning, she told the council.
First-time offenses for selling alcohol to minors can result in a $500 fine, and some on the council thought the amount justified for tobacco as well. Hupy said the state felt the fine excessive for tobacco, although she did agree $50 was too lenient.
This is not the first time tobacco compliance checks have been performed in and around Buffalo, but this the first time any retailers have sold to minors during the checks, according to Carder.
The recent checks were the result of complaints from the public of retailers selling tobacco to minors.