Cracking down on underage tobacco sales

By Erin Perkins -

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Prevention Coalition recently met for its regularly scheduled discussing synar visits to Mason County establishments.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the synar program is responsible for implementing the requirements of the synar amendment which requires states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18.

Greg Fowler, Mason County Family Resource Network (FRN) executive director, along with an underage Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School student and a Mason County police officer visited selected Mason County establishments to see if employees would sell/distribute tobacco to a minor.

Fowler commented prior to the visits the selected establishments were informed of consequences surrounding the selling and distributing of tobacco to minors. Also, when the minor went into the establishments to attempt purchase of a tobacco product, the minor stayed honest about his age.

Fowler shared only one establishment attempted a sale/distribution to the minor. He explained the store clerk and the store owner both received a citation for the offense. He added the establishment has been cited before for the same reason.

Fowler said nearly all counties have completed their synar visits. He commented Mason County has not cited an establishment for underage tobacco sales/distribution in approximately four years.

In other business, Rita Davis, manager at the Prestera Center, shared an available spot will be coming open at the center soon as a client will be graduating in two weeks.

MCPC members also discussed the annual events the coalition holds throughout the year and discussed adding new events to attract new and old crowds alike.

Davis suggested addressing not only drug prevention strategies and information, but also sexual assault prevention strategies and information. Richard Sargent, Point Pleasant Junior/ Senior High School (PPJ/SHS) teacher, suggested visiting local churches and presenting prevention material in a style similar to a sermon. John Machir, director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter, suggested doing tailgating at high school football games again and handing out prevention information to the game-goers.

Fowler said he would like to organize one more town hall meeting for this year. He asked fellow MCPC members to think about a new idea for the upcoming town hall meeting, as well as more ideas for events of the upcoming year.

Also, Machir shared The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Gallipolis, Ohio is working on implementing their 12-step recovery program within the prison systems.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4 p.m. at the courthouse annex.

By Erin Perkins

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.