The Anne Arundel County Department of Health and local law enforcement officials caught nearly one in four retailers selling tobacco products to minors during a recent sting operation.
The officials visited nearly 260 merchants from Jan. 1 to June 30, and 60 stores sold the products illegally to youths under age 18.
The county has been working with the Maryland Department of Health, which gave the county a $100,000 grant to help reduce youth access to tobacco. Part of the effort involves educating merchants about avoiding sales to minors.
A new Maryland law that goes into effect Sunday will allow law enforcement officials to issue civil citations instead of criminal ones to retailers caught selling tobacco products or e-cigarettes to minors. Store owners and employees issued citations can be fined.