Sheriff’s office, police department combine forces to take the I-Pledge
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office have partnered with the Red Oak Police Department to combat the use of tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products by county youth.
Known as I-Pledge, the program is spearheaded by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division to educate local retailers and enforce Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product laws.
Since its creation in 2000, the statewide tobacco compliance rate has grown by 91 percent. By participating in the program, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Red Oak Police have committed to do its part to increase the compliance rate even more this year. Red Oak Police Chief Justin Rhamy said I-Pledge places emphasis on retailer training.
“Clerks who successfully complete an online training course and pass the exam will be I-Pledge certified. This allows a retail establishment to use an affirmative defense against a civil penalty if the certified clerk makes an illegal sale,” Rhamy explained.
Rhamy added, retail training is a great way for clerks to prepare themselves to refuse illegal tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vape sales, and benefits the retail establishment as well.
“The training assists retailers to ensure they maintain a compliant and responsible establishment,” said Rhamy.
Montgomery County Sheriff Joe Sampson said officers and deputies will also be conducting compliance checks on local establishments as part of the I-pledge program.
“Underage customers, under the supervision of law enforcement, will enter establishments and attempt to buy these products. Clerks who make the illegal sale will be cited on the spot,” Sampson advised. According to Sampson, the criminal penalties for the sale of productions to underage buyers will increase with each infraction.
“The penalties include a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second, and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses. But I want to be clear, the purpose of this announcement is because handing out citations is not the intent of the I-Pledge program,” commented Sampson.
Both Rhamy and Sampson believe that by partnering with the program, they can educate clerks and maintain a compliant retail environment in the community, and they pledge to help keep tobacco and related nicotine products out of the hands of city and county youth.
To take I-Pledge training, or to search for certification records, visit abd.iowa.gov.