Monday, February 02, 2009
More Anti-Smoking Terrorism: Kodiak, Alaska Wal-Mart's Tobacco License Suspended For 30 Days For Allegedly Selling Tobacco To A Minor
The nanny state is alive and well in Alaska. The Wal-Mart in Kodiak has had its license to sell tobacco suspended for 30 days for allegedly selling tobacco to an underage customer.
According to Kodiak's APRN outlet KMXT 100.1 (which includes an audio report), an underage customer attempted to purchase cigarettes at the store. Jennifer Spall, Walmart's public affairs officer for Alaska, explained that the cashier in question did request ID, which was proffered, but then keyed in the wrong information about the customer to the register, which then failed to alert the cashier of an ineligible customer. The register is programmed to flag keyed-in birth dates to alert cashiers to underage customers.
Apparently the license suspension has already taken effect, as Kodiak resident Ashley McClusky, who is not a smoker, said she witnessed tobacco products being removed when she was shopping on Monday January 26th. The suspension will be lifted on March 1st.
Wal-Mart's penance will also include retraining employees in the proper handling of tobacco sales, and effective February 1st, they will also implement a statewide policy of checking I.D.'s for anyone wishing to purchase tobacco products, similar to the store's policies on tobacco and liquor purchases in Anchorage. Walmart also apologized for the incident and for any inconvenience the suspension of tobacco sales may cause customers.
The State of Alaska routinely sends in teenage "narcs" to various stores in order to test cashiers for compliance in sales of alcohol, tobacco, and certain video games. The "narcs" use real IDs in order to avoid entrapment issues.
I have no objection to Wal-Mart carding everyone; I'm accustomed to it in Anchorage. I also have no objection to the state sending in underage "narcs" to test enforcement, since they use real IDs and there is no entrapment. But what I do object to is levying such a drastic penalty upon a merchant, when I can drive by any Anchorage high school and see students standing just outside of school property puffing away frantically (Anchorage School District officials repeatedly state that they can do nothing about it if it occurs off school property, even if they can see it from the school). Why are we punishing stores who inadvertently sell cigarettes to minors more harshly than the minors themselves? The minors are also breaking the law by smoking.
If this happened in Anchorage, the inconvenience to the customer would be marginal, since there are numerous alternatives, but what about a small town like Kodiak? Smokers in Kodiak have fewer alternatives, and they're likely to be more costly than Wal-Mart. Another nitnoid law that disproportionately screws small-town Alaskans.
This proves that our so-called "anti-smoking campaign" directed towards youth is a sham, nothing but smoke and mirrors. We spam the airwaves with cutesy-poo anti-smoking messages, many of which are considered lame by teenagers, at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, crap all over merchants who inadvertently sell a peak of fags to a teenage narc, then wink at teenagers smoking off school property in plain sight of school officials. Like so much of our public policy, it's all style and no substance. And why are we not holding parents accountable? There's no way the parents can NOT know their teenagers are smoking, unless they never set foot in their teenagers' rooms. Too many parents look upon their teenagers' rooms as foreign countries requiring a passport and visa for entry. And courts chip away steadily at parental sovereignty.
A real teenage anti-smoking policy would hold teenagers rigorously accountable for smoking. Either enforce it right, or abolish the law. End the duplicity and ambiguity.