Suggestions for Retailers

To help your clerks remember to check for IDS during every tobacco sale, the following could be done:

  • Conduct training that covers at minimum the following topics:
    • Act 112 of 2002
    • Fake IDs
    • How to handle refusing a sale when appropriate ID is not presented
  • Place reminders at registers to ask for IDs
  • Review policies at least every other month to keep fresh in employees minds
  • Remind employees of penalties both they and you, as a store owner, face from magistrates
  • Post signs around the store that serve as both notices to the public and reminders to your employees about selling to minors
  • Remind employees that compliance checks can happen at any time

Selling Cigarettes

Every customer who appears to be younger than 25 years old must be asked to provide identification - see the list below for acceptable forms of ID.


If you think the ID might be a fake - see the list below of things to look for - you should ask for a second type of ID.


You should refuse to sell cigarettes to customers who do not have ID or whose ID does not look valid.


If a clerk sells cigarettes to a minor, they can be prosecuted and fined up to $1,000 if found guilty.  The store can also be prosecuted and fined and potentially lose their right to sell tobacco.

What to look for on IDs

All IDs should contain the following:

  • A photo with photo likeness
  • Birth date
  • An expiration date
  • A signature

The following types of IDs would be acceptable:

  • Driver's license
  • State issue identification cards
  • Passports with necessary information
  • U.S. Military ID

The following IDs would not be acceptable and the customer should be asked for another form of ID:

  • School IDs
  • Birth certificates
  • Library cards
  • Bus passes

When checking for fake IDs, keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Size, thickness, and color of the card
  • Placement, size, and typeface of the letters and numbers
  • Photograph for shading, glare, or "red-eye"
  • State seal for accuracy
  • Back for blurred or dark images

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are two holograms on an ID: a list of all the counties in Pennsylvania and a keystone with "PA" in the center.  New licenses will now also have two black and white holograms with "PA" in the keystone logo that alternate depending on which way you hold the ID.


Helpful tips on spotting a fake ID


Does it appear grainy?  Photocopies of IDs will appear grainy and dull.  Most real IDs have a certain sheen to them.


Are there lumps on the license?  ID cards issued by Pennsylvania have a smooth texture - lumps in the license may indicate lamination where someone makes a fake.


Does the picture match the details beside it and the person handling the ID?  If you aren't sure, ask for a second ID to make a positive match.  Remember that you are allowed to deny a sale if you are unsure about the person's identity.


If retailers fail a compliance check, a criminal complaint is filed against both the clerk and the retailer.


Penalties can be levied against both the retailer and the clerk who made the sale.  The level of fines is determined by the magistrate judge.


For a clerk, the fine structure is set out below:

  • First offense - $100 to $200
  • Second offense - $250 to $500
  • Third offense - $500 to $1,000

Retailers face steeper fines, set out below:

  • First offense - $100 to $500
  • Second offense - $500 to $1,000
  • Third offense - $1,000 to $3,000
  • Fourth offense - $3,000 to $5,000

Along with a fine, retailers also risk losing their tobacco retailer license after the fourth offense.


Retailers do have the option of using "affirmative defense" when a training program has already been in place for employees prior to a violation happening.  This defense can be used three times before it is no longer admissible.

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