I am anticipating that our war against "sting operations" for the sale of tobacco or alcohol to those under-age will be a long one, fought municipality by municipality, then state by state and finally on a national level. Law-enforcement doesn't want to give these up. "Sting operations" are the most effective means that law-enforcement has to prove it is doing something about the problem, even if that something has no effect at all. Those agencies that are conducting these "sting-operations" are doing so because they receive federal dollars to support this action. They do not want to loose those funds. City councils and state legislatures will have the same motivation, the desire to keep federal grants, no matter what it takes. Local judges, who are elected by the people, will want to please a populace they think are in favor of these "sting operation," as well as party bosses, and will be inclined to rule that entrapment is not a legitimate defense. I might be over estimating the opposition, but I am sure that winning this war won't come easy.
One way to ease the burden is to keep each other current with our successes and failures. We will receive sympathy for our failures, and encouragement to continue the fight. Our successes will help to encourage those who are not having such success, as well as provide precedence we can cite as we face the courts again.
Eventually, news items will be posted on a state by state basis. Until enough news items have been gathered to make this a necessity, all news items will be posted on this page. At the bottom of this page you will find a form to submit any news item you consider of importance to the battle.
Please note: all links in these stories will bring up a new browser window. When you are finished with those links, just close that window and you will find yourself back at this document, which will have never left your machine.
SPOKANE WA, May 1, 2000:
A convenience store cashier, cited April 26th of this year for non-compliance with state laws concerning tobacco sales to minors, has determined to fight the citation. This cashier has returned his citation to the Washington State Liquor Control Board (Spokane office), with a copy of the document entitled COMPLIANCE CHECKS AND THE ISSUE OF ENTRAPMENT by UTHUR from the Town by the Sea, and a cover letter requesting that the citation be dropped on the basis of the information provided in that document. The cashier went on to say that if the Washington State Liquor Control Board is unwilling to drop the charges, that cashier requests a formal hearing and is prepared to meet the Board in court.
At this time, we are waiting to hear the reaction of the Washington State Liquor Control Board (Spokane office).
The cashier in question is the cashier identified as WA-0001 in the STORIES section of this web site.
Be sure to return to this page and find out further developments of this story.
Submitted by: UTHUR from the Town by the Sea
WASHINGTON DC, March 21, 2000
The United States Supreme Court, in the case of FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION et al. v. BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CORP. et al. No. 98-1152 ruled that the Food and Drug Administration has no jurisdiction over tobacco. As a consequence, the Food and Drug Administration has instructed all its partner agencies in the various states to cease the Compliance Checks that it previously contracted with them to conduct.
This does not mean an end for Compliance Checks in total. Many states have enacted legislation based on the FDA's regulations which give state agencies the power to conduct Compliance Checks even though the FDA had no power to institute or fund them in the first place. The Supreme Court ruling, which said nothing specifically about Compliance Checks, does not invalidate these state's laws. All it does, and this by extension, is rule that the FDA had no authority to institute and fund these Compliance Checks in the first place. (The Supreme Court ruling said specifically that the FDA had no authority to regulate the sales of tobacco, among other things. Since Compliance Checks were a part of the FDA's attempt to regulate tobacco sales, the Supreme Court has ruled, in effect, that the FDA had no authority to institute or fund them.)
In Washington State, and I assume in most states, the FDA funded Compliance Checks were the only Compliance Checks that did not fine the cashier. The Liquor Control Board, under Washington State Law, still conducts Compliance Checks for tobacco, as should noted in the case of WA-001, cited above, which occurred a month and eleven days after the Supreme Court ruling. Also, local police agencies still conduct Compliance Checks for alcohol, again under the authority of Washington State Law. Both of these forms of Compliance Checks do target and find the cashier in the case of non-compliance. Check with your own state and local law enforcement agencies to find out the situation in your area.
One interesting development of this ruling is that, since the FDA had no authority to institute, conduct and fund these Compliance Checks, it also had no authority to fine the retailers who were found in non-compliance. I anticipate many retailers bring suit against the FDA, as a result of this ruling, for reimbursement of fines, and perhaps for losses to business due to any other penalties enacted by the FDA as a result of these illegal Compliance Checks.
Submitted by: UTHUR from the Town by the Sea
If you have a news item to be included on this site, please use the following form. News items can include stories of cases pending; reports of the effectiveness of Compliance Checks on the reduction of usage by minors; organizations, both civic and private, that are questioning the ethics of "sting operations;" educational efforts on the part of those against "sting operations;" reviews of the practice by governmental bodies; and especially cases won! They do not need to be validated in print, however if they are, I would like this information as well.