Study Guide

The Sale

Success starts at the counter - with you.

You’re it. You’re the one behind the counter, so you decide who purchases tobacco and who doesn’t. And that means you need to learn how to make the right decisions when the time comes to make the sale.

Checking IDs

Federal law requires a photo ID be checked for anyone purchasing tobacco under age 30. It’s impossible to tell who can legally purchase tobacco without verifying age by checking an ID. The way someone talks and dresses, the way they look, or the friends they hang out with … these can all point you in the right direction. But don’t be fooled. Asking every customer for their ID and verifying their age is the only way to guarantee that you don’t sell to a minor.

Here are the only acceptable forms of identification to verify age for tobacco sales in Wisconsin:

  • Military ID
  • Driver's License
  • State-Issued ID
  • Passport
  • Native American ID

Wisconsin’s vertical IDs don’t always look the same, but they mean the same thing: your customer may be under 21. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Look for the dates under their photo.
  2. Check the date they turn 21. Is it in the future?
  3. If it’s in the future, they’re not old enough to buy tobacco. Don’t make the sale.


How to spot a fake ID

Whatever form of ID you're given, make sure it hasn't expired. Knowing how to tell a valid ID from an invalid one can help you make the right decisions at the counter.

  • Confirm that the picture is of the person purchasing tobacco
  • Text shouldn't be smudged
  • Text should be placed properly
  • Text should be all the same font

If there is any question, ask for a second ID

Refusing an illegal sale

The hardest thing to do once you suspect that an ID is invalid (or that a customer is underage) is to refuse to make the sale. It can be intimidating for anyone, but there are some tips that can make refusing an illegal sale easier.

  • Remain Calm
  • Remove the product from the counter
  • Be polite
  • Don't accuse or become confrontational
  • Stick to the facts
  • Don't offer your opinion - the law is nonnegotiable
  • Remind the customer about the law and that you can be fined
  • Try using humor to lighten the situation

Of course, some situations are stickier than others. If you don’t know what to do in the face of an illegal sale, don’t be afraid to turn to a supervisor or coworker for support. Here’s how to handle special situations:

Not selling tobacco to underage friends

Remind them that selling to a minor is illegal and security cameras could be filming. If your friend is really a friend, he or she won’t put your job at stake. Remember, refusing to make the sale isn’t personal—the law is the law.

Minors buying tobacco for adults

Let minors know that if adults want tobacco, they need to come in and make the purchase on their own. Mention you could face a fine or lose your job for breaking the law by selling to a minor.

Adults buying tobacco for minors

If you notice something suspicious, you can ask if the product is for a minor. Point out that statute prohibits adults from providing tobacco to minors.

The tobacco grab

Don’t allow a customer to grab the product before showing an ID and purchasing the product. If the customer leaves the store with the tobacco before the purchase is complete, it’s theft. Alert your manager, and he or she will take the required steps from there.

Dealing with an abusive customer

Stay calm and don’t argue. Just repeat the reason for refusal and remove the product from the counter. Try to avoid making eye contact and notify a supervisor or the police as soon as you can. Above all, don’t let one bad experience discourage you from making a difference in the future.