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Part II: Steps to Prevent the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Operations


Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

Part II: Steps to Prevent the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors

Last month, I offered suggestions on how to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors at your truckstop. Today we’re going to look at similar procedures that can prevent the sale of tobacco to underage consumers. As I said, retailers who violate the law and sell these products to minors can face tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales, fines, embarrassment within the local community and significant costs in lost employees. Here are eleven steps to help prevent tobacco sales to minors.  

  1. It is imperative to include your company’s policy and procedures regarding the sale of tobacco to underage customers as part of your location’s orientation program.

  2. Employees should know without a doubt that it is never okay to sell tobacco to an underage customer.

  3. No matter what the circumstance is, it is unacceptable to sell tobacco to an underage customer. Do not be fooled into scams that evolve the use of other persons, such as “My dad sent me in here to purchase a pack of cigarettes. He in unable to come in on his own as he is not feeling well.”

  4. It is possible you can face jail time for repeated offenses for selling tobacco to underage customers. Important to know you county and state laws and avoid becoming a repeat offender.

  5. State fines for selling tobacco can result in fines that range from $50 to $15,000. Additionally depending on you county and or state laws, you could potentially lose your license to sell tobacco. Like alcohol, selling to underage customers has serious consequences.

  6. It is imperative to remember that not only can the seller of tobacco to an underage customer be penalized, the company and, in some cases, the ownership could face potential penalties.

  7. The appropriate age restricted polices should be in full view of your customers. There should be no doubt to any customer who would like to purchase tobacco from you company what your policies are. Failure to properly announce what your organization’s policies are result in buyer beware and open your operation to other potential problems.  

  8. Every tobacco purchase should include asking for identification to prove the age of the customer. As with every alcohol purchase, you should always check the date of birth, photo, state seal, expiration, signs of tampering and anything else that is part of your company’s policies and procedures.

  9. Similarly to alcohol purchases, driver’s license and state ID should be the only acceptable form of age identification. You should not accept other forms of age identification, such as credit cards, library cards, Social Security cards, etc.  When in doubt, do not allow the purchase.

  10. Always know your company’s policies as it applies to the sale of tobacco and equally your state and counties laws. Most states require the customer who is purchasing tobacco to be 18 years old, however some require that customer to be 19. Are you in a state that requires the customer to be 19 to purchase tobacco?

  11. If you find yourself refusing a tobacco purchase, ensure that you are polite yet firm, assert the law and your company’s policies, remove the product from the reach of the customer and ask for assistance from the manager if need be. 


Read Part 1 of Steps to Prevent the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors at Your Truckstop here

/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.  



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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.