Food Lion cashier caught selling tobacco to minor

Published 4:46 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

An Alcohol Law Enforcement agent doing an impromptu check of local tobacco vendors caught a cashier at Food Lion of Columbus selling tobacco to a minor last week.
David Hales, the ALE agent in charge for District IX, which includes Polk County, said an approved minor working with ALE entered the store March 30 and asked to buy a pack of cigarettes.
Hales said from the report it is unclear whether the clerk misread the date or simply ignored the fact that the individual was underage. He said regardless, it is important for tobacco vendors to be vigilant in these circumstances.
“We do these random checks just to ensure and check the compliance of tobacco vendors,” Hales said. “We also offer them training for their employees and have done so for about 12 years.”
Hales said the program originated in the late 90s.
No criminal charges were placed against the store, its management or the cashier, Hales said. Punishment for first-time offenses is left up to store management.
When the Bulletin attempted to speak with the store’s manager about the issue, she directed us to the company’s corporate office.
Food Lion spokesman Benny Smith said the company takes these offenses seriously.
“It is Food Lion’s policy to never sell tobacco products to any underage person. It is also our policy to ask for identification from anyone attempting to purchase tobacco products that appears to be under 30 years of age,” Smith said. “Cashiers are trained in Food Lion’s ID policy. Should a tobacco product be sold to someone under the legal age limit, the employee is suspended pending an investigation. If the individual is found guilty, employment is terminated immediately.”

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