There are area youth who take a different approach in the fight against teens’ smoking cigarettes: at the front lines.

Or rather, some youth stand in line and see what clerks will sell.

Local police solicit the help of teens to do periodic compliance checks on establishments with cheap cigarettes and liquor licenses, seeing if they will sell illegally to minors.

Eve, whose name was changed to provide anonymity, has been on undercover “stings” before with local and state officers. She is 15 years old.

During a compliance check, Eve goes into a bar or gas station and asks for a pack of cigarettes. Sometimes she gets nervous. She worries she will mess up the brand name of the pack. Clearly, she does something right. Once, nine establishments sold her cigarettes in one night.

Dave Wesner, Danville’s corporation counsel, said last year 12 citations were issued at establishments for violating the ordinance prohibiting the sale of cigarettes online products to anyone younger than 18. Wesner said typically the employee who sold tobacco to a minor is the one who is fined. However, continual violations at a certain site may result in a suspended or revoked license for the business.

Eve said she thinks it’s wrong when establishments sell to minors.

“What they’re doing is telling teenagers it’s OK, when really it’s not,” Eve said. She said it’s not good for places to break the law, especially when smoking cigarettes puts one on a path that may lead to death.

Moving forward

Eve’s mom knows parents play a big role.

“I was raised in a family of smokers. Both my parents were heavy smokers,” her mom said. “I knew from an early age, it was a habit I didn’t want to develop.”

While she thinks it is good for schools to educate teens about risky behaviors, she doesn’t think it’s their responsibility.

“I absolutely think it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their kids right from wrong.”

Her daughter said she will never smoke.

“I want to try to be like my mom,” Eve said, “because she never tried drugs when she was younger.”

Eve is comfortable talking to a parent and to her peers.

As they are being interviewed, Eve and her mom talk to each other about the situations Eve has encountered. Her mom knows Eve has been tempted by peers. Eve explains that she knows what to do when she’s pressured to start an unhealthy habit.

“I’ll just be like, ‘You know I don’t do that type of stuff,’” Eve said. “Later, they don’t even ask.”

“You’re that direct?” Eve’s mom asks her.

“Mm hm. Yeah, because if you’re not, they’re just gonna keep asking you,” Eve said.

“That’s true,” her mother replied.

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