Some Iowans are learning –the hard way– that convenience store clerks may actually be police officers involved in what’s called a reverse sting. Lynn Walding, administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, says the “Cops in Shops” program is targeting illegal tobacco sales.Plain-clothes police officers are being put behind retail counters to catch anyone under 18 who tries to buy tobacco products, and adults who buy the goods to give to minors. Walding says this is a “reverse sting” since the state, for months, has been sending supervised minors into stores to try and buy cigarettes to catch clerks who don’t I-D.Walding says “Cops in Shops” has already netted a variety of citations in several Iowa cities, both against adults and teenagers trying to buy tobacco products. At least 50 cities statewide will be settings for the reverse stings, but Walding won’t say which cities or when. He says they want kids to think twice when they try to purchase tobacco.A first-time offender who tries to buy tobacco faces a 50-dollar fine and eight hours of community service. Adults who supply tobacco to minors are cited with a simple misdemeanor, a mandatory court appearance and a minimum fine of 50 dollars.
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