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So while shopping in a store tonight I witnessed a store clerk allow a customer to use their ID to buy cigarettes. The store clerk ask me if I could allow the customer to use my ID. I clearly and quickly told her that, I could not do that. The lady claimed to be of age. To me as a person with an MBA, would without reservations would say it is ethically wrong. I can’t find anything that states it is wrong, even though I know it is legally wrong.

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    In what way exactly did the customer "use" the clerk's ID? Around here, the way you "use" an ID to buy cigarettes is to simply show your ID to the clerk, but I don't see the point of the clerk looking at his own ID. Also, what jurisdiction is this (what country / state / province / etc)? – Nate Eldredge Jul 1 at 3:42
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    @NateEldredge quite a lot of places require them to be scanned as permanent proof against the purchase. Op was right to decline, as its not their purchase - if the other customer was involved in a criminal activity and police tracked them to that purchase, the Ops identity would have been connected directly. – Moo Jul 1 at 4:28
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    laws on tobacco sales vary widely. In the US this is a matter of state law. Where is this taking place? – David Siegel Jul 1 at 14:20
  • @DavidSiegel Agreed. Some places, for example, make it a crime to sell to someone under age, but mere company policy requires that an ID be retained for every sale, even though one can be sure it is not a crime if someone is obviously elderly or is a repeat customer who has shown you their ID before. The company might not punish you for violating mere company policy in such a case (since you helped the company make a legal sale that made a customer happy). In other places, a copy of the ID might be a legal requirement. – ohwilleke Jul 2 at 2:30
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in , this is not illegal although it is a highly questionable business practice.

The law is a blanket prohibition on selling tobacco to persons under 18 years of age. There is no requirement on the retailer to verify the age of the customer: they are simply liable if the customer happens to be under 18.

Government advice is that proof of age should be requested of any customer who appears to the retailer to be under 25 years of age and only certain types of ID are acceptable. It is a defense to the otherwise strict liability offence if ID was observed that could reasonably be accepted by the retailer (i.e. a good forgery would meet the criteria) AND the customer was at least 14 years old. there is no requirement to record that this happened - presumably the testimony of the sales clerk would suffice if credible.

So, for the particular circumstances: if the person was 18+ there is no illegality, if the person is less than 18 there is no defense because your ID is not a valid ID for the under-18 purchaser.

  • Then again, it seems like if this happened in NSW the clerk will have required an actual ID for some reason related to the store owner's policy (since your account of NSW law suggests that the requirement to have an actual card does not arise from NSW law). If that's the case then the clerk presumably would have violated that policy by using his or her own ID to complete the sale to another person. Wouldn't that be breach of contract? – phoog Jul 1 at 16:53
  • @phoog not if the clerk owns the store. Or if the employer hasn’t trained the clerk not to do this - employment law in Australia requires employers to accomodate for stupid – Dale M Jul 1 at 20:13

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