Tobacco Employee Training
The Iowa Pledge Program (I-PLEDGE), developed by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, asks Iowa’s kids to pledge not to use tobacco products, Iowa's retailers to pledge not to sell tobacco products to kids and Iowa's law enforcement to pledge to enforce Iowa's tobacco laws.
The focus of the program is alerting and educating Iowa’s tobacco retailers so they are more aware and informed of changes in laws in order to work with their employees to ensure illegal sales are not made. The overall goal of the program is voluntary compliance with the state’s tobacco laws through education and enforcement.
The I-PLEDGE retailer training program is extensive and covers Iowa’s tobacco laws, valid forms of identification and how to spot altered and fake IDs. Students will also learn techniques on how to refuse the sale of tobacco with minimal confrontation.
Establishments that participate in the Iowa Pledge training are granted an affirmative defense, which may be used once in a four-year period. A business may avoid civil prosecution if a tobacco sale-to-minor violation occurs in their establishment. In order for the business to take advantage of the affirmative defense, the employee guilty of the violation must have been Iowa Pledge certified at the time the offense occurred. Though a business may avoid a civil penalty, the guilty employee will still be subject to a fine.
First violations for illegal sales of tobacco to minors include a $100 criminal fine to the clerk, as well as a $300 civil fine to the retail establishment. Subsequent violations result in higher fines, as well as temporary and permanent loss of the retail license. Minors under the age of 18 are also subject to fines and community service if found using, attempting to purchase or in possession of tobacco products.