Let me start by noting that I am not here to get on (chain gas station/convenience store) QuikTrip’s case, but they, along with others lack some massive consistency. To clarify, there appears to be a massive difference in the way that this convenience store chain (especially the one in Kennesaw, GA) and state regulators view tobacco purchases against lottery purchases. In the State of Georgia, people cannot buy either tobacco products or lottery tickets unless they are 18 years or older. Certainly, there is this ongoing issue in our culture that younger people seek to smoke and use other tobacco products. Some just want to feel accepted, others are addicted already, and some just want to bend the rules. So, a few will to go stores in Georgia and try to buy before they are legally old enough to do so. Sometimes, a few teenagers fall through the cracks – whether the clerk at the gas station didn’t realize that the purchaser was not yet 18 years old or simply did not care how old the purchaser was. Of course, state and local officials push hard to reduce underage tobacco usage. They restrict tobacco manufacturers, and they make sure that retailers are abiding by the law through undercover activity. But, what about those lottery obligations and restrictions? I don’t see undercover activity by local and state officials to ensure local retailers are following all of those gambling rules.
The QuikTrip Observation!
There is a local QuikTrip convenience store that is near my home in Kennesaw, GA (metro Atlanta area). It seems like a clerk might have accidentally sold cigarettes to an undercover customer during an underage sting. As a result, this location was fined, and their management team decided that they were going to avoid that risk by carding every tobacco customer, even if the customer appeared to be 70 or 80 years old. Personally, I’m cool with that – the law is the law. But, I feel that there is a lack of consistency. I have not seen them card every lottery customer. I mean… both purchases have the same age requirement, so why the regulatory discrimination? Similarly, I do not see or hear about any undercover lottery stings that deal specifically with the potential underage lottery customer. If you are going to card every customer who wants to buy alcohol or tobacco, you should do the same for adult magazine purchases, lottery, and anything else that may have an age restriction.
If tobacco and alcohol has negative side effects when abused, we must remember that, while different, abusing lottery through addictive purchases beyond one’s budget can have severe, negative side effects. I know that the government and the HOPE Scholarship wins by having more people buy lottery, but shouldn’t the government more actively enforce the age restriction? If they do not want to do that, why not open up lottery purchases to everybody? If they are going to take tax-payer money and resources to conduct undercover sting operations for tobacco and alcohol purchases, they need to make a more concerted effort to do the same for lottery purchases. Otherwise, the law is just a waste! What do you think?