The Muscatine Police Department has long been a partner in the state’s I-Pledge program. This program is designed to help educate local retailers, as well as enforce Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product laws. The main goal is to keep harmful tobacco and vape products out of the hands of Muscatine youth. Since the program's inception in 2000, the statewide tobacco compliance rate has grown to 95 percent.
I-Pledge emphasizes retailer training by encouraging clerks to complete an online training program. At the end of the course is an exam that allows the clerk to become I-Pledge certified. Should a certified clerk make an illegal sale, the retail establishment can use the clerk’s certification as an affirmative defense against a civil penalty. The I-Pledge’s retailer training program is a great way for clerks to recognize and prepare themselves to refuse illegal tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product sales to underage people.
As part of the I-Pledge program, the Muscatine Police Department conducts compliance checks at all local tobacco and vapor product retailers. Underage customers, under the supervision of our officers, will enter the establishments and attempt to buy tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor products. Clerks who make illegal sales will be cited. Criminal penalties for selling to an underage purchaser include a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense, and a $500 fine for a third or subsequent offense.
Nobody likes getting a ticket, right? So the goal of the I-Pledge program is education and compliance, not to see how many tickets our officers can issue. The Muscatine Police Department is encouraging all tobacco and vapor product retailers to take the time to introduce your staff to the I-Pledge program, which can be accessed through https://abd.iowa.gov/. The Muscatine Police Department would love to see 2020 as the year that retailers showed 100 percent compliance with no citations being issued.