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MPD pledges to snuff out tobacco sales to minors

October 6, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

The Marshalltown Police Department wants to continue the upward trend of tobacco compliance by curbing tobacco sale to Marshalltown youth.

In a partnership with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, the MPD looks to improve on the 92 percent statewide compliance rate the program has reached since its inception in 2000.

The effort is called the Iowa Pledge.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said the local compliance picture is on par with statewide numbers. But that isn't good enough.

"There is no reason we can't be at 100 percent," Tupper said.

Clerks who sell tobacco to a minor could see hefty fines ranging from $100 to $500 depending on whether the retailer had previously been caught selling to minors.

However, by educating retailers on tobacco laws, Tupper said the program aims to serve as a springboard to increasing compliance.

"We don't want to write tickets. We don't want to catch people in non-compliance," Tupper said. "We want everyone to be compliant."

However, clerks who successfully complete an online training program and pass an exam will become Iowa Pledge Certified. An Iowa Pledge Certified retail tobacco seller will receive affirmative defense against civil penalty should the clerk make an illegal sale.

The program is geared to provide incentive for retailers to educate those selling tobacco by providing them a sort of one-time immunity to having their tobacco license taken away.

As part of the Iowa Pledge program, the MPD will also conduct compliance checks of local tobacco sellers, sending minors into local tobacco sellers - under the supervision of the MPD - in an attempt to buy tobacco illegally. But Tupper said the goal of the compliance checks is to ensure clerks know the law, not to "bust" anyone.



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