Is There Such A Thing As Being Too Careful When Carding Someone Buying Cigarettes? - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/09/05 - Lufkin

Is There Such A Thing As Being Too Careful When Carding Someone Buying Cigarettes?

by Stuart Burson

The potential for heavy fines or even lawsuits for not stopping minors from buying cigarettes or alcohol has many retailers tightening their enforcement policies. In fact, at least one midwestern grocery chain is now checking the I.D.s of everyone trying to buy these products, whether they're 21 or 91 years old, just to make sure.

For convenience stores, cigarettes are big business. Despite all of the money that comes in from the sale of cigarettes, store clerks have to be careful about who they sell to.

"I think it's up to the clerk themselves on who they want to card. Like, our store policy is 27. If they look 27 or younger, then we card them. But it's up to the clerk on what they think's right," says Jackie Peacher, who works at an Okay Food Store in Lufkin.

But, would Jackie ask for I.D.from someone who's clearly old enough to buy cigarettes?

"Personally, I wouldn't card somebody that old, but it depends on the store policy. If they want you to card everybody, then you need to do it."

There are still some retailers who'll sell cigarettes to a minor. However, police say it does not happen very often around East Texas.

"We don't see a whole lot of it. We get a complaint every now and then, and then we run little sting operations three or four times a year. Here, lately, we've been getting excellent compliance," says Lt. Greg Denman with the Lufkin Police Department.

A couple of the clerks we spoke with told us that by simply obeying the law, not only does it keep cigarettes out of young people's hands, it also lets them keep their job.

Lt. Denman points out it's also against the law to purchase cigarettes and then hand them over to a minor. He says most fines involving the illegal sale of cigarettes are misdemeanors. They usually carry fines of about $100.

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