Congratulations to the winners of our You Write It Contest in the January 30, 2012, issue. We couldn’t have written these articles better ourselves!
(Click here to read the You Write It interview that inspired these articles.)
Check out the winning entries below.
Going Undercover to Fight Smoking
Sixteen-year-old Connie Lau has been going undercover to stop cigarette sales to underage teens. Connie drives to stores with plainclothes police officers and tries to buy cigarettes. You need to be 18 to purchase cigarettes, and Connie is only 16. If a store sells to her, the officer goes in and writes a ticket to the seller.
“It sounds like you have to be a great actress,” Scope asked Connie, who has to act like an everyday smoker that buys cigarettes all the time. Connie says, “If the cashier asks for ID, you have to show it,” which means she can’t lie about her age. “Most don’t sell to me,” Connie says, “In a year, we’ve visited almost 150 stores and only had 15 sales.”
When someone does sell her cigarettes, she gets excited! She says a cashier once said, “She looked old enough!” Connie just stood there, waving and smiling.
“Has a cashier ever gotten mad?” asks Scope. “A cashier who didn’t sell to me got angry when he learned my age,” says Connie. He was threatening to call her parents and the police! The officers she was with had to go in and calm him down by telling him the purpose of Connie’s job.
Scope asks, “Do you ever feel nervous or unsafe?” Connie answers, “I was extremely nervous my first day,” though she had no need to fret, because the officers are always with her.
Well, why would Connie do this? What has she learned from her experience? “A single teenager can make a big difference. For the most part, when stores get caught, they learn their lesson and don’t do it again,” she says. Connie despises smoking. It has a terrible stench and is also very damaging to your body. “I gave one friend a long lecture, and he stopped.” Connie has helped tremendously with the mission to stop underage smoking. Would you do the same?
Sixteen-year-old Connie Lau is determined to put a dent in underage smoking! Imagine being an undercover teen sneaking around with cops! To me that sounds fun and very “sneaky.” It isn’t all fun and games though. Being a teen with a very mature responsibility can be nerve-racking and teeth-chattering!
Smoking is already bad for adults and even worse for kids. In Connie’s words, “You have to be 18 to purchase cigarettes, and I’m 16, so if they sell to me, they’re breaking the law and an officer goes in and writes a ticket.”
In a year, Connie has been to 150 stores and has only had 15 sales! That sounds like a good thing, but there are thousands more stores that sell cigarettes. Most people get angry when they are given tickets and use excuses like, “She looked old enough!”
Connie admits that, at first, working this job can be scary. However, she discovered that there is nothing to be scared of when you have cops by your side. Being an undercover agent sounds a lot different now, does it not? Being a teenager is already hard! Adding a job when you are sneaking around with cops must bring a lot of extra pressure. In conclusion, Connie Lau is tough, smart, and adventurous! That is 16-year-old Connie Lau.
Connie Lau, 16, from Castro Valley, California, regularly goes undercover. Police dressed normally accompany her as she acts like someone trying to buy cigarettes. When the salesman sells the minor tobacco, the police walk to the sales counter and give a ticket to the salesman. Connie does this undercover job to stop the illegal action of selling tobacco to people who aren’t old enough.
When Connie gets someone to sell her the tobacco she gets excited. She loved the reaction of the first cashier she caught, who said, “She looked old enough!” Once, a cashier who didn’t sell to her was furious and started yelling at her.
Connie gets nervous, but she is never at risk with police officers surrounding her. Connie learned that a single teenager could make a huge difference. She says, “For the most part, when stores get caught, they learn their lesson and don’t do it again.”
Connie despises smoking. She thinks that it is terrible and so bad for you. She hates seeing her friends do it, and it breaks her heart. She often tries to get them to stop. She once gave her friend a long, strong lecture to get him to quit smoking, and he did.
As you can see, Connie has made a big difference by herself. Now imagine how much the difference could increase if everyone helped.
Connie Lau, 16, from Castro Valley, CA, works with police to stop tobacco sales to minors. This courageous young adult goes into stores with police officers in plainclothes and tries to buy cigarettes. You have to be 18 to purchase any tobacco product, so if they sell to her they are breaking the law. This is when the officer goes in and writes a ticket. Scope asks Lau if she ever feels nervous or unsafe. “I was extremely nervous my first day,” she says, “But the officers are always nearby, so I’m never really at risk.”
Her motivation is how much she despises smoking. Lau claims it’s bad for you and it smells awful. She tells Scope, “It breaks my heart to see my friends smoking. I always try to talk them out of it.” It has worked before. She gave one friend a long lecture, and he stopped. This was an accomplishment for him and for Connie. Thankfully, not many stores sell to underage kids. In one year Connie visited almost 150 stores and only got 15 sales.
The first time someone sold to Lau, she was excited. Afterwards, when the officer was writing the citation, she tells Scope that the cashier kept saying, “She looked old enough!” Believe it or not, some cashiers have gotten mad at her! One cashier, who didn’t sell to her, got angry when he learned her age. He said, “I’m going to call your parents! I’m going to call the police!” To calm him down, the officers had to go over and explain to him that Connie was undercover.
Lau says that what she learned from this experience is that one teenager can make a big difference. For the most part, when stores get caught, they learn their lesson and don’t do it again.
Connie is just one of many kids making a difference in their hometown. Join Connie and millions of others who are making a difference. Get out there and make a change!
Connie is a 16-year-old. She works undercover for the police, trying to stop stores from selling cigarettes to underage kids. She goes into stores with plainclothes officers, or “officers who aren’t wearing uniforms.”
“In a year, we’ve visited almost 150 stores and only had 15 sales,” says Connie. “For the most part, when stores get caught, they learn their lesson and don’t do it again.” Her skills come in handy with her friends, too. She’s even helped a friend quit smoking, which is pretty cool.
Smoking is bad, and Connie is trying to stop cigarettes from being in the hands of minors. But how exactly does she do it? She’s got to be a great actress and act like a real customer. But a lot of times she is turned down. Once, a man was mad when he found out her age. He actually threatened to call her mom and the police. An officer had to come in and explain the whole thing to the cashier.
The reason she does it is because she despises smoking and tobacco altogether. “It breaks my heart to see my friends smoking,” Connie says. Smoking is bad for them, and it is a hard habit to break.
“What have you learned from this experience?” asks a Scope reporter. “A single teenager can make a big difference,” Connie says, and she’s right—we can all help. Maybe we can’t all be undercover cops, but we can all help in some way.