Store clerk fired for refusing to let customer buy cigarettes with ebt card

A woman in New Hampshire, was fired from her job as a convenient store clerk last month after refusing to let her tax dollars pay for a customer’s cigarettes.

Jackie Whiton, 65, said that on May 29 a 20 year old man came into the Red Apple store in Peterborough, N.H., to buy two packs of cigarettes. When she asked for his I.D., he handed her his Electronic Benefits Transfer Card.
«I made the statement, ‘Do you think myself, that lady and that gentlemen should pay for your cigarettes?’ Whiton told the New Hampshire Sentinel Source. «And he responded ‘yes.'»
Another customer in line then told the clerk, «You said just exactly what I was thinking,» according to Whiton.

Eventually the man left without his cigarettes, but his foster mother returned the next day to complain. Later that day, another man attempted to do the same thing.

«He was very capable of working, so I told him to get a J O B,» Whiton told the Boston Herald.

After receiving complaints, the store’s manager called the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to find out what welfare recipients could and could not buy with the card. According to the Sentinel Source, there are two kinds of EBT cards one used strictly for food and one that can be used as a debit card for any items, including cigarettes and alcohol.

A department spokesman told the Boston Herald that the only places the card is prohibited is in casinos, liquor stores and «venues of adult entertainment.»

When reprimanded, Whiton told her manager that she still wouldn’t sell to EBT users because she didn’t think it was right. She was fired minutes later.«Company policy is to follow rules and regulations, and the sale of cigarettes to EBT card holders is legal,» said a spokesman for the 78 store chain C.N. Brown Co. «She didn’t wish to follow company policy, so she was let go after four years.»According to Fox 25, Whiton is petitioning New Hampshire State Officials to tighten up on EBT card usage.

The Associated Press reports the New York State Senate voted 56 3 last week to pass a law prohibiting welfare recipients from spending their tax funded benefits on cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, and strip clubs. If passed, New York would join ten other states who have already ruled that social services can’t be spent on items ranging from beer to guns. Next, the «Public Assistance Integrity Act» must pass the New York State Assembly, which hasn’t introduced it.

What do you think Was Whiton justified in refusing to sell cigarettes to EBT card users? Leave your comments below.

Under 21? why you can’t buy cigarettes in nyc anymore

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Ten years after NYC banned puffing in public, Gotham s government has launched another attack on smoking. Yesterday the City Council passed a bill raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 (from 18). The bill, which will take effect six months after Mayor Bloomberg signs it, also sets the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes at $10.50.

The law s goal is to prevent teenagers from developing dangerous habits that can last a lifetime, since recent research suggests 90 percent of smokers started before age 18. While smoking rates among New York City youth have fallen sharply throughout Bloomberg s time in office (from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent in 2007), the number of teens who smoke has stopped declining in recent years.

New York State residents already have the most expensive smoking habit in the nation, so it seems reasonable to assume raising the cost of cigarettes will discourage smoking among teenagers. But research on the subject is inconclusive, and it s unclear that pricier packs will have any impact on smoking rates among young New Yorkers.

Currently, New York is the first U.S. city to implement this type of legislation. Certain U.S. counties (including Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York) have already made it illegal to sell tobacco products to people under 19 or 21. But it will be interesting to see if other big cities follow New York s lead, and what kinds of consequences the law has on the college crowd in particular.

Do you think making it illegal for people under 21 to buy tobacco products will have any real impact? Weigh in below and let us know what you think of the new legislation.