Two stores in Nipomo received their second citations and one in Oceano received its third for selling tobacco products to minors in a sting operation that started in October 2018 and ended April 9, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.

Countywide, a total of nine businesses — 15.5% of the 58 that were checked — sold tobacco products to minors in the operation conducted by the County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program in coordination with the Sheriff’s Department.

That was an increase from the 14% noncompliance rate in the last series of checks, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.

Since the checks started in 2012, the county’s highest rate of noncompliance was 25.93%, while the lowest was 5.17%, he said.

Three people under age 21 assisted in the sting by entering various businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county and attempting to purchase tobacco products.

In Nipomo, clerks at Von’s Gas at 550 W. Tefft St. and Kachi Smoke Shop at 538 W. Tefft St. sold tobacco to the minors, earning each store its second violation, Cipolla said.

Central Market at 2061 Cienega St. in Oceano picked up its third violation when a clerk there sold tobacco products to one of the minors, he said.

Other stores that sold tobacco to the decoys were in Creston, San Miguel, Paso Robles, San Simeon and Cambria, where a store racked up its fifth violation, Cipolla said.

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Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.