GLENS FALLS — State Police arrested a Whitehall woman Tuesday after she allegedly sold Juul “vaping” liquid to a 16-year-old girl at a Glens Falls store, officials said.
The arrest was part of an effort by troopers to check local stores’ compliance of the law that bans the sale of nicotine products to those younger than 18.
It was the first local arrest in connection with an underage vape sale. State troopers working with the underage female volunteer checked 12 stores in Glens Falls, Queensbury and South Glens Falls this week, and succeeded in buying a Juul nicotine product only at 42 Degrees on Park Street in Glens Falls.
The clerk who police said sold it, Sarah K. Hart, 28, of Whitehall, was charged with second-degree unlawfully dealing with a child, a misdemeanor, and was released, pending prosecution in Glens Falls City Court.No stores were cited for having the flavored products that Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered banned earlier this week, since retailers have two weeks from Sept. 17 to sell or remove flavored products from their store shelves, with only menthol flavor to remain legal.
The federal government is considering a ban on flavored products as a surge of lung illnesses have reportedly been linked to vaping. The Juul product that Hart allegedly sold to the teen would still be legal in New York under the ban, but it can’t be sold to minors.
A woman who answered the phone at 42 Degrees would not comment on the matter and said she would leave messages for the owner and Hart, but added, “You probably won’t get a call back.”
Co-owner Robin Barkenhagen did call back Friday night,and said that Hart had just started work that day, and he did not see anyone who would have been underage in his store when she was alleged to have sold to a teen.
He said he was working with her to train her, and took responsibility for whatever may have occurred that shift. If an illegal sale occurred, she probably was distracted during a busy time of the shift, as the store has a strict policy on checking identification, Barkenhagen explained.
"She got caught up in a confusing time on her first shift," he said.
The neighboring Smoke ‘N Save shop on Park Street was also checked, and no arrest was made there or the other stores that were visited. A Smoke ‘N Save manager who identified herself as Melissa said her staff is vigilant about checking young buyers.
“All of our employees know to ID. We train our employees very well,” she said.
The unlawfully dealing with a child charge is punishable by up to 3 months in jail and a $500 fine.
Don Lehman covers police and court matters and Warren County government. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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