An undercover sting operation in Russell County, Virginia was recently launched to investigate the distribution of tobacco and vapor products to minors. 

According to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Detective Chris Kiser with the Lebanon Police Department, working in conjunction with the VA Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, developed and executed the operation, resulting in the citation of two local vape shops for selling to underage individuals.

The people charged are scheduled to appear in court next month.

According to a release, despite this successful action against distribution to minors, school officials are reporting that the use of nicotine-containing products in schools is still yet on the rise.

Due to the increase, Russell County Sheriff Steve Dye and Commonwealth’s Attorney Zack Stoots plan to instate the requirement that any juvenile caught with tobacco or vapor products on school grounds be charged for underage nicotine use.

The following statement was issued to News Channel 11 via email: 

This initiative will be enforced by local school resource officers with the Russell County Sheriff’s Office patrolling school property. Zack Stoots stated, “This is just another example of local law enforcement agencies working together to protect our children, and our offices are committed to the health and safety of juveniles.” Stoots also noted, “law enforcement involved in the investigation remain diligent and hope these actions will make shop owners be more critical of those buying the products and take the appropriate steps to prevent nicotine items from making it into the wrong hands.” The Virginia General Assembly raised the legal to age to purchase tobacco and nicotine vapor products this year to from 18 to 21. This law takes effect on July 1, 2019.