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    Kwik Shop Fights Fines

    Convenience chain, Iowa community face off on tobacco sales citations.

    BURLINGTON, Iowa -- The Burlington City Council voted in favor of fining Kwik Shop Inc. $300 during a special hearing because one of the retailer's employees sold cigarettes to a minor at its 1003 Summer St. location last November.

    The decision came despite a plea from Kwik Shop district advisor Patricia Cummings that the store is innocent, according to the Iowa Hawkeye.

    Kwik Shop, a division of Hutchinson, Kan.-based Kroger Co., stands accused selling tobacco products to a person under the age of 18 on Nov. 29, 2001. The clerk was fined $100 plus court costs and, according to state law, the permit holder, Kwik Shop, is guilty of a civil violation because the cigarettes were sold from one of its stores.

    Cummings argued that Kwik Shop does everything it can to instruct its employees to not sell cigarettes to minors. Kwik Shop provides a three?day training session to new employees and shows them a video about how to not sell cigarettes to minors, and gives a written examination.

    The store makes it clear to all its employees to request identification from any person wanting to buy cigarette products who appears to be 27 years old or younger, the report said. In addition to a calendar on every Kwik Shop counter that provides dates on who is old enough to buy cigarette or alcohol products, every store cash register -- upon purchase of cigarettes -- asks the employee if he or she checked to see if the person is old enough, Cummings said.

    Other than requesting a hearing before the city that gave Kwik Shop a license to sell cigarettes, the store has no other legal outlet to argue its case, Cummings said. Kwik Shop used to place employees who sold tobacco products on probation. But because the law is so stringent, the store started a new policy regarding employees who sell tobacco on July 1 -- terminate them, she said.

    In December, Kwik Shop had a hearing before the council because employees sold cigarettes from two of its other stores. Kwik Shop has since appealed the December decision and a hearing against the city is scheduled for July 31 at the Des Moines County Courthouse.

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