Four Burbank convenience stores received citations for selling cigarettes to minors this week in a citywide sting conducted by the Burbank Police Department.

On June 10, the police department's Vice Narcotics Unit visited 35 convenience stores — including ones that had been reported previously by residents for selling to minors — and had a decoy pretend to buy cigarettes.

Each business that was issued a citation was also educated on how to check the identification provided and the proper procedures to ensure the business is not selling tobacco to minors.

The tobacco stings are conducted one or two times a year in an effort to educate businesses and ensure the safety of youth, said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn.

"Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous, they're gateway drugs to other dangerous drugs and any time the police department has the ability to diminish or limit that through education and enforcement, that's a positive thing for the police department and the community," he said.

In the last sting, 20 businesses were visited but none were cited, Ryburn said.

For each business that passes, the police department sends a letter commending them on following the law, which also helps in the education process since an employee may not notify the owner that he or she turned away a minor, he added.

The police department also conducts stings on alcohol sales to minors two to three times a year, Ryburn said, adding that when businesses apply for new alcohol-sale permits, they are notified about the stings.

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Follow Sameea Kamal on Twitter: @SameeaKamal.

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