The Iowa City Police Department conducted tobacco sales law compliance checks from June 19-27, 2021, at the 54 businesses open for business and licensed to sell tobacco, alternative nicotine, or vapor products. Working with plainclothes officers, underage persons entered these businesses and attempted to illegally purchase these products. In total, 51 businesses refused to sell tobacco, other nicotine, or vapor products to the underage buyers.
Three businesses checked by police sold to the underage buyers. The businesses that failed the compliance checks were:
- Liquor Downtown – 315 S. Gilbert St.
- Hawkeye Smoke & Liquor – 108 E. College St.
- Up in Smoke – 208 N. Linn St.
The employees who sold tobacco products to the underage buyers were each charged with “Employee Selling Tobacco to Persons Under Age 21.” An employee convicted of selling tobacco products to persons under age 21 years of age is guilty of a simple misdemeanor, punishable with a $135 fine for the first offense. Additionally, the violations may result in civil penalties against the tobacco licenses.
The ICPD participates in the iPledge Program through the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD.) One of the requirements of the program is to conduct a compliance check on each business within the ICPD's jurisdiction that has a license to sell tobacco products.
As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.