Almost 20 area gas stations, convenience stores and bars sold cigarettes to minors during rounds of compliance checks this month.

Cedar Rapids checked 240 stores. Among repeat offenders, the Casey’s at 130 41st Ave. Dr. SW was non-compliant this time, as well as the Casey’s at 641 Edgewood Rd. NW and Guppy’s on the Go, 1532 Ellis Blvd. NW. The 41st Ave. Dr. Casey’s was cited at least twice before, and Guppy’s once. The Edgewood Rd. one was tested twice this round and failed BOTH times. Of Linn County’s outlying tobacco retailers, two retailers in Prairiesburg and Troy Mills failed the “test” this time.

It’s not that hard to ask for an ID. If people want to smoke or buy alcohol, they should have their ID on them. When I was a checker at Hy-Vee, it was our rule that we were required to ask for an ID if someone looked younger than 30. They put us through a short, mandatory training on recognizing fake IDs and being assertive when requiring ID. As a result, I’m sure I put the kibosh on a few college students’ weekend plans…but what do you do?

Bottom line — if your buyer looks young enough to make the sale illegal, it’s better to not take chances unless you’d like to pay a fine of up to $1,500 to someone who needs it less than you do.