The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office says it has taken a pledge to keep tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products out of the hands of Guthrie County’s youth. Known as I-PLEDGE, the program is a partnership with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) to educate local retailers and to enforce Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor product laws.
Due to a change in Iowa law, alternative nicotine and vapor products are now considered age-restricted products and will be part of the I-PLEDGE program’s compliance initiatives this year. Since the program’s inception in 2000, the statewide tobacco compliance rate has grown to 93%. By participating in the program, the Guthrie Co Sheriff’s Office has committed to do its part to increase the compliance rate even more this year.
I-PLEDGE places emphasis on retailer training. Clerks who successfully complete an online training course and then pass an exam will become I-PLEDGE certified. This allows a retail establishment to use and affirmative defense against a civil penalty if the certified clerk makes an illegal sale. Although not required to retake the training if currently certified, ABD encourages clerks to repeat the training after October 3rd, in order to familiarize themselves with the newly age-restricted products.
Sheriff Marty Arganbright says “I-PLEDGE’s retailer training is a great way for clerks to prepare themselves to refuse illegal tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor product sales. The training also assists retailers to ensure they maintain a compliant and responsible establishment.”
Guthrie Co Deputies and Reserve Officers will also be conducting compliance checks on local establishment as part of the I-PLEDGE program. Underage customers, under the supervision of law enforcement officials, will enter and attempt to purchase tobacco or alternative nicotine products. Clerks who make the illegal sale will be cited on the spot. Criminal penalties for selling tobacco, alternative and vapor products to a minor include a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for a third and subsequent offenses. However, handing out citations is not the intent of the I-PLEDGE program.
“By partnering with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division, we hope to educate clerks and maintain a compliant retail environment in our community,” Sheriff Arganbright said. “Moreover, we pledge to help keep tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products out of the hands of Iowa’s youth.”
To take the I-PLEDGE training or search certification records go to www.iowaabd.com