The Southwest Alliance for Tobacco Prevention coalition and the Wisconsin Wins program partner with businesses throughout the year to provide training and resources on how to avoid underage tobacco and nicotine sales.

Tobacco retailers, and employees who check the IDs of their customers, are faced with unique physical distancing challenges. Here are some tips for keeping businesses and customers safe while conducting business:

• Maintain social distancing. Ask customers to show IDs through plastic or glass partitions or by placing them on the counter face up.

• Clean hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

• Place ID bar-code scanners or smartphone apps on the customer side of the sales counter for customers to complete self-scans.

• Customers with face masks are similar to ones with a beard. Confirm other physical information like height, weight, eye color, and hair color.

When selling tobacco, remember that current federal laws require that tobacco products cannot be sold to customers under age 21. If the date under the customer’s ID photo is in the future and they are not 21, refuse the sale.

Tobacco retailers, along with parents and our local community, must work to keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids.

The next time you see your local retailer check an ID, say “thank you” for helping keep our youth healthy.

Debbie Fischer is the director of the Southwest Alliance for Tobacco Prevention.