News & Resources

Investigation exposes Reedsburg ID verification failures

Jun 23, 2011 Brian Bradley

Due to the increasing number of retailers selling tobacco products to minors in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, an investigation was run in the town to bring the numbers down. According to the Reedsburg Times-Press, the town's stores averaged a 26.3 percent sales rate to minors in 2010 - significantly higher than last year's state average of 8.6 percent. Pam Coy, owner of Viking Liquor, is disappointed with her employees' decision to break the law. "We give them the tools to do the job and some just don't," Coy told the news source. "It's frustrating." A program called Wisconsin WINS was enacted a decade ago by the Tobacco Free Coalition of South Central Wisconsin, a part of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It aims to ensure that retailers carry out identity verification checks when selling tobacco products. During the investigation of Reedsburg stores, undercover teenagers are trained by the coalition to ask for tobacco from cashiers using their real ID, without lying to employees about their age. The Malibu Patch suggests enforcing fines and license fees on stores that sell to minors, since many employees will continue the practice if they believe no one is watching.