Vape Sales Lead To Store Citations


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Vape Sales Lead To Store Citations
Vape Sales Lead To Store Citations

Concerns about illegal sales of mainly vapor products to teenagers were apparently pretty high as tips from Pauls Valley parents led authorities to first investigate two local but connected stores before then handing out some very public citations.

The places targeted for investigation the last few months are the Valero store on the east side of PV, which has a full name of Fuelcom, LLC, dba Valero, and Pauls Valley Vape Shop.

Both are on the same property in the 300 block of East Grant as officials from various agencies converged on the stores Dec. 27 resulting in citations and what amounts to a warning to stop selling tobacco and vapes to anyone under 21.

Two local officials, Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett and PV Police Chief Derrick Jolley, have been fielding calls from parents with concerns about the stores selling the vaping products to their teenage kids.

“We were getting some calls about some of these sales. Parents would call us about what’s going on,” Mullett said, adding the concerns were about students from PV High School and others from outside of town coming to these two stores to purchase vaping products and in some cases cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

“They suspected they were getting vapes and alcohol from these stores; that they were allowing the sale of vapes and alcohol.

“It was known amongst these young people that this was the place to get your stuff.”

“We’ve been getting complaints off and one about that one store for a long time on minors being able to purchase vapes and tobacco products,” Jolley said.

“There are numerous stores all over town but that’s the one store where the same complaints about the kids are about. The sheriff and I talked about it and that led to the ABLE Commission being contacted.”

The ABLE part stands for the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, which used some “young people” as undercover teens to go in the stores and attempt to purchase these products. That occasionally went on from September through November leading to last week’s citations.

“The stores allowed them to buy it without checking their ID,” Mullett said, adding there were seven incidents of illegal purchases.

“We collected enough evidence until we saw it was more than a one time thing. There was a clear pattern here.”

In the end the Valero store was cited three times for the unlawful sale of tobacco products, one citation for the sale of alcoholic beverages and one for the employment of an unlicensed or untrained employee.

The adjoining vape shop was cited four times for tobacco related sales.

According to both Mullett and Jolley, the citations lead to the Tax Commission, which decides the punishment for the stores, including the possibility of pulling licenses to sell these products.

“We told them if they continued doing this there would be a problem and that another compliance check is coming in two or three months,” Mullett said.

“If it happens again we can go in and it’s automatic arrest,” he said, referring to not only the store owner but any clerk allowing for the illegal sale of tobacco, vapor or alcohol products.

Jolley believes these citations do serve as a warning to this store and others to check those ID’s and do it right when it comes to the sale of these products.

“It’s a problem, but the owner, I don’t think he’s encouraging these sales,” Jolley said.

“I’m sure he gave them the proper training and left them to do their job. Employees make bad decisions, but ultimately it’s on him because he’s the owner. Hopefully the owner can get the employees under control.

“Minors using vapes is something we’re having an issue with. We’ll continue to monitor the situation. Hopefully this will curb that issue about minors being able to get those products at that store.”

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