Tobacco stings are under way in Smith County and Monday six gas stations were targeted.
This is part of a grant from Texas State School Safety Center to hit 188 stores in one year.
We were there, with camera rolling, as a fifteen years old girl, well under the legal age of eighteen, entered a Tyler gas station to buy tobacco. The cashier didn't buy it, so neither did she.
Driving up to a gas station to buy cigarettes illegally might make some teens nervous.
"It's a good cause, to make sure nobody else is, to make sure they're not selling it to young minors, at times it's like awkward, but then it's not," said the fifteen year old, we are unable to disclose her identity since her work is under cover.
Not for the two teens who sit in the back of this unmarked car, it's their job. They are a few of the hundreds of teens across Texas who aid law enforcement in tobacco stings.
"The teens, they are very important to us because number one they help us a lot and it's almost sometimes very hard to get the teens," Deputy Constable Glenn Stone, said.
The Smith County Constable's Office implemented TAT, Teams Against Tobacco, last year, though they've been performing busts for more than a decade.
"It helps the community because it keeps the tobacco products out of the hands of young children," Stone said.
Five of the stations we visited Monday did not let the girls buy without ID's. But at the Star Smart 2 station, in Tyler, our teen asks for some black and mild's and isn't denied. The cashier doesn't ask to see an ID and continues to ring up a cigarette for the 14-year-old, despite a sign that hangs in the entrance of the store claiming they ID. Moments later, that cashier is ticketed. He'll face up to a $500 fine and be required to take tobacco safety classes.
"That one person, the next time, I'm pretty sure he'll be aware of who he's selling tobacco products to," Stone said.
A buy for one teen, to keep cigarettes away from other teens. So far in this year's cycle, which began in September, The Smith County Constable's Department has hit 25 stores. They are scheduled to do 16 per month.
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