Each year, the Western Wisconsin Working for Tobacco-Free Living in affiliation with the Pierce County Health Department conduct tobacco investigations in area communities.
The basis of this program is to focus on rewarding those businesses and their employees who check ID's for tobacco sales. Teams of trained teens, accompanied by adults, conduct tobacco investigation compliance checks. Youth teams visit retailers, looking for the right action by sales clerks in these establishments.
The youth actually attempt to buy a tobacco product from the sales clerk. If the clerk asks for the ID and prevents the sale, they will receive a special gift, compliments of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. The business will then be entered into a drawing to receive a cash reward for their efforts in support of youth access laws.
This year's winners are Kwik Trip Store #301 in River Falls and Freedom Valu Center in Ellsworth. The community is indebted to these businesses for protecting its youth and limiting tobacco access to youth in area communities.
Wisconsin State Statute 134.66 forbids the sale of tobacco to those under age 18. Wisconsin State Statute 254.916 allows the participation of minors to conduct investigations and to enter premises such as taverns or bars for compliance checks only. Vending machines must be located in a place where the retailer or vending machine operator insures no person younger than age 18 is present or permitted to enter, unless he or she is accompanied by his or her parent or guardian, or by his or her spouse who has attained age 18.
In 2012, 32 compliance checks were done with 0 percent resulting in sales to the minors, which is an improvement from 21.2 percent resulting in sales in 2011. The Pierce County compliance checks will be starting soon for 2013 and the goal is for a repeat of the 2012 results. Contact Lisa Thurmes, Pierce County WI Wins Coordinator, with questions or if interested in volunteering to assist with compliance checks at 715-273-6755.