Ralsten Tersol helps local news station investigate tobacco sales to minors

Nov 30, 2016
tobacco sales investigation

Newman University freshman student Ralsten Tersol recently assisted KSN’s Stephanie Bergmann and former Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Folston with an investigation into tobacco sales at e-cig shops and convenience stores. Their mission: to see if the employees were asking for ID from customers who appeared to be 27 years of age or younger.

Tersol explaind, “I was basically the infiltrator. I posed as an underaged person and I would just go into the smoke shop and ask for an e-cig refill, and if they gave it to me without asking for an ID then I would report back to Stephanie Bergmann. But if they did ID me, then I would just try to convince them that I’ve been there before and that I’ve bought here before and try to convince them that I am over 18. That usually did not work.”

In Kansas, it is illegal for a person to sell, give, or supply cigarettes and tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco products, to any person under the age of 18, or to any person seeking to purchase such products for a minor person. Anyone convicted of violating the Kansas Cigarette and Tobacco Products Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and subject to a minimum fine of $200 up to $1,000 for a first violation. If a minor is caught with possession of tobacco products, they are subject to a fine of $25, according to Kansas We Card web center.

Last year when the experiment was conducted, 12 out of 26 smoke shops sold their product to the “underaged infiltrator” without asking for identification. This year, only four out of 26 smoke shops sold their product.

Tersol got involved with the experiment because “I knew Stephanie’s daughter through Kapaun Mount Carmel Catholic High School, and I agreed to do the experiment [so I could] say that I helped conduct an experiment trying to regulate the sale of tobacco to minors.”

Tersol added, “I thought it was fun. It was a good experience, and I was happy I was able to help.”

Find out more about the KSN investigation by watching the full story at KSN.com.