Frequently Asked Questions

The Tobacco Cooperating Underage Witness (CUW) Program is a program run by the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE). DATE utilizes CUWs for compliance testing to ensure that retailers who sell tobacco products are in compliance with state laws prohibiting the sale of these products to minors.

Tobacco CUWs are 16 – 17 years old.

CUWs can be summonsed to appear as a Witness for the Division if a case is scheduled for a hearing in a court or other proceeding.

The goal of the CUW program is compliance. While some arrests may be made as a result of conducting compliance checks, Delaware's goal is to have all of its retailers who sell tobacco products comply with state law.


Upon completion of a mandatory pre-employment training session Tobacco CUWs are eligible to work. When a date for compliance testing has been set, DATE Agents will contact the required CUWs. The Agent will advise the CUW of a particular date and time when they will be conducting compliance checks and confirm their availability.

If the CUW is available to work, an Agent will pick up the CUW at a pre-arranged location.

Prior to the start of an operation, the CUW will be briefed by the Agent on the specific requirements that all CUWs must adhere to while they are conducting compliance checks.

Upon arrival at the location to be tested, the CUW will enter into the establishment with the Agent entering shortly after them. The Agent will then position themselves where they are able to view and observe the CUW, as well as the store clerk.

The CUW will approach the store clerk and attempt to purchase the tobacco products as instructed by the Agent.

If asked their age by the store clerk, the CUW MUST state their real age. At no time will a CUW be allowed to lie, mislead, or deceive any store clerk or other store employees.

At this point, the store clerk will either complete the sale, or deny the sale of the tobacco product to the CUW.

After the interaction between the store clerk and the CUW has been completed, the CUW will immediately exit the store. The CUW will then be secured in the Agent's vehicle.

The Agent will then make contact with the Store Clerk and either reward the store clerk for compliance, or issue a criminal summons if a sale was made.

The Agent and the CUW will then complete a short report about the incident and if a sale was made, the Agent will also take custody of any evidence.

The Agent and the CUW will then proceed to the next location and repeat the process until all of the locations have been checked.

At the conclusion of the operation, the CUW will be returned to the pre-arranged location and the operation will end.

If the CUW is needed as a witness in court or other administrative proceeding at a later date, the Agent will notify the CUW of the date and time that they are needed to testify. The Agent will pick up the CUW from a pre-arranged location and return the CUW to a pre-arranged location after the proceeding has concluded.


The safety of all CUWs is the Division's number one priority.

At no time will an Agent knowingly allow any CUW to become involved in a situation that places the CUW in jeopardy. If a situation should arise, Agents will take immediate custody of the CUW and remove the CUW from the area. Agents are certified police officers and are trained to take the appropriate police action if required.

The Division cannot predict every situation that may arise. While the Division takes reasonable steps to ensure the safety of all CUWs, there is always the potential for an unforseen situation to occur.

In addition to taking reasonable steps to ensure that a CUW is not knowingly placed into a situation that could result in injury, Tobacco CUWs are insured by the state against any unforeseen incidents that may occur while they are participating in the tobacco CUW program.


Tobacco CUWs, while traveling in a State of Delaware vehicle, are covered by the State of Delaware's Auto Collision Coverage.

Tobacco CUWs, during the hours that they are actually working under the tobacco CUW program, are covered under the State of Delaware's Workers Compensation Coverage.

Absolutely no coverage is provided for a Tobacco CUW before or after the actual hours that they are working under the tobacco CUW program.

The two types of coverage listed in (1) and (2), is the only coverage that will be provided to a Tobacco CUW.


Tobacco CUWs may be required to pay taxes, since they are paid for their service.


The State of Delaware may or may not withhold state or federal taxes based on information provided on your child's W-4 form. Your child may be required by law to file a tax return as a result of their working as a Tobacco CUW.

We strongly urge you to contact your tax consultant, or the proper federal, state or local agency to determine any tax liabilities that may exist.

Nothing said or implied to any Tobacco CUW or the parent(s) of a Tobacco CUW by any member of the Division, or associated official, can release a Tobacco CUW or the parent(s) of a Tobacco CUW, from liability for the payment of taxes to the State of Delaware, Internal Revenue Service, or any political subdivision.

The reporting and payment of any taxes is the sole responsibility of the Tobacco CUW and their parent(s).

The City of Wilmington requires that any person working within the City of Wilmington and making more than a total of $80.00 in a tax year, pay City of Wilmington Wage Tax. The current city wage tax percentage is set by the City of Wilmington. Any City of Wilmington wage tax will be deducted from the Tobacco CUWs paycheck, if required.


  1. CUWs are 16 - 17 years old. The CUW must turn 16 prior to January 1 of the program year and cannot turn 18 until after November of the program year.
  2. CUWs must have parental permission to participate.
  3. CUWs must successfully complete a background screening.
  4. CUWs must provide a copy of their Birth Certificate.
  5. CUWs must provide a copy of their Social Security Card.
  6. CUWs must obtain a work permit from the Department of Labor.
  7. CUWs must have a State of Delaware issued identification card or driver's license from the Division of Motor Vehicles.
  8. CUWs must agree to being photographed on a monthly basis for record keeping requirements of the program.
  9. CUWs will be required to adhere to all Division policies during the operation. All CUWs will be briefed on these policies by an Agent, prior to the start of a Tobacco CUW operation.
  10. CUWs must appear by a reasonable person's standard to be under 18 years of age. All CUWs must follow a strict dress code which includes the requirement that males may not have facial hair and females may not wear excessive amounts of make-up.

To apply to be a Tobacco CUW, you can either download a Tobacco CUW Application Packet from this website or Contact us at:

Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement
Attn: Tobacco Program Coordinator
34 Starlifter Avenue
Dover, DE 19901

Ph:(302) 577-5210

Once you have completed the CUW Application Packet, send it in to the Division address above along with copies of your Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, and State Issued ID.


While actual working hours may vary, it is our intention to operate the CUW program under the following guidelines:

  1. The CUW will generally be asked to work either a four (4) or eight (8) hour block of time.
  2. Tobacco CUWs will be paid a wage of $10.00 per hour.
  3. Tobacco CUWs will receive a State of Delaware check (via DIRECT DEPOSIT) as payment.
  4. Tobacco CUWs will be paid in the following manner:
    - Payment for any tobacco compliance checks performed during the first two weeks of the month will be sent out the last Friday of the month.
    - Payment for any tobacco compliance checks performed from the middle to the end of the month will be sent out the second Friday of the month.

The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement accepts applications for Tobacco CUWs from August 1 - December 1.