Clerk Gets Fired After Refusing To Sell Cigarettes To Welfare Recipient

clerk fired selling cigarettes welfare

A New Hampshire clerk who refused to sell cigarettes to a welfare recipient and was fired now finds that she is a cause celebre to those who are outraged that it is legal to use the taxpayer-funded benefit to purchase tobacco products, alcohol and similar non-essential items.

Jackie Whiton, 65, lost her job as a clerk at a Big Apple convenience store in Peterborough late last month after refusing to accept an Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card as payment for the smokes. "He was very capable of working," she said of the customer. "So I told him to get a J-O-B."

Publicity about the incident has resulted in a flood of support nationwide for Whiton's firm stand, reports the Union Leader of Manchester.

Whiton said she worked at the store for six years, though a spokesman for the parent company of the 78-store chain, C.N. Brown Co., told the Boston Herald she was employed for four years.

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Whiton said the incident began when a young man handed her an EBT card as ID to purchase the cigarettes. "I told him he couldn't buy them with the card, and he said [that] yes he could," the Leader quotes her as saying.

When her bosses caught wind of the incident, they told her she couldn't refuse to sell cigarettes to EBT holders because there is no law prohibiting such transactions, which Whiton apparently was unaware of.

Whiton responded by resigning. But before she could serve out her notice, a similar incident occurred and she was fired.

A spokesman for the company told the Herald: "Company policy is to follow rules and regulations, and the sale of cigarettes to EBT card-holders is legal."

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No state in the nation restricts how cash benefits can be spent, the Leader quotes Terry Smith of New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services as saying.

"That's pretty much the law of the land; it's not just New Hampshire," he said.

Smith told Boston's WCVB-TV that his agency doesn't have the authority to restrict how recipients use their benefits. "It is a moot point in that anybody can go to an ATM, withdraw cash and spend it invisibly anyway."

Still, Whiton doesn't think it's right. "People work hard for their money," she told Boston TV station WFXT. "[I]t's their hard earned money that's paying for these people that can use these cards as a debit card, and I think it's a huge burden on the taxpayers."

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All of you that are saying it was none of her business or anyone's for that matter. Well, it *IS* everyone's business on what Cash EBT or Food Stamp money is being spent on! I've seen money spend on some really nice steaks that *I* can not even afford to buy! Alcohol and cigarettes should be another no-no. Those are "luxury" items, not needed necessities. Cash EBT should be used for soap, tooth paste, medication, etc. These benefits are to help people in need to get by until they can get on their own. I will go on to say that the majority of anyone who disagrees with me, either smokes, drinks alcohol on a regular basis, or is/has used these benefits.

November 14 2012 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

we can thank our president for encouraging people NOT to work but to have the government to support them!
Illegals included!!

November 14 2012 at 9:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

THE ONLY THING AN EBT CARD SHOULD BE USED FOR IS FOOD AND DRINK! (non-alcoholic) The lazy-ass should have his/her card and benefits taken away.

November 13 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

There is a difference between Cash EBT benefits and Food Stamp program. With the cash portion, they have no limits on what can be purchased or if they want to withdraw cash off the card. Food EFT card limits what can be purchased. It goes by a code that is programmed into each scanable item.

November 13 2012 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There should be a food and grocery warehouse exclusively for food stamp recipients only. This way, the food stamp is not abused or misused. It is really disturbing when you are next to a food stamp recipient paying a truckload of groceries with food stamps EBT card and here you are, worked 45 years, on a limited pension, still pay taxes, and on limited budget for groceries.

November 13 2012 at 6:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

its not a clerks job to deny a legal sale if it is the policy of ebt .personally though i always thought ebt was for food items only. plus you dont ever tell a customer your personal views , its really none of your business.

November 13 2012 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

EBT cards in the state I live in is for food only. No paper products,nothing but food. The man could just be on tough times, having worked all his life, or mentally unbalanced. If that were the case, he could have harmed the clerk. For a brief period in my life I was on food stamps and wic. I also worked. Any change I received from the paper foodstamps went into a separate pocket of my wallet. If I chose to buy cigarettes, diapers, tampons, it was from the money I earned. I used to purchase all my wic items at once and freeze the milk . I had cashier question me about not reselling the wic items. It was not their place to judge. My mother would come watch my children late at night so I could shop at the one 24 hour grocery store we had. I was ashamed to have needed foodstamps. This was 27, 28 years ago. My father pulled me aside one day, and said honey I have worked all my life, and you too have worked hard. You need the foodstamps? Then you take them.

November 12 2012 at 6:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How about the fact that you can get cold prepared food but not hot food, w/EBT food stamp card

November 12 2012 at 4:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Who's to say that the guy hasn' worked and paid takes for 20 years and is in a tough place now. A little judgmental don't ya think ? He followed the rules, judge the rule makers.

November 12 2012 at 4:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I've got two jobs. So does my husband. I am so sick of comments like, "she's so insensitive," "she doesn't know their situation," etc. I am more than happy to get that guy some help with his food bill, gas bill, etc. but I don't spend 80+ hours away from my family to pay taxes so this slug can smoke. She doesn't know his situation? Hey - you don't know hers! She's 65 and WORKING. I don't blame her for being irritated. I'm irritated too.

October 11 2012 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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