MINNEAPOLIS -- September is We Card Awareness Month, a good time to train new employees and refresh training of current employees on how to properly request identification of individuals desiring to purchase tobacco products to prevent the sale of tobacco to underage youth.
Tools such as We Card’s age-of-purchase calendar and programmed cash-register age prompts help employees calculate a customer’s age to help avoid mistakes during peak hours or when there is an inattentive moment for the cashier. Also, with some states and even cities and towns raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 19 or 21, We Card, Arlington, Va., has the materials that are age-specific to match the minimum legal age in the community or state where a store or stores are located.
In addition to state law requirements that require retailers to deny sales of e-vapor products to minors, in 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating e-cigarettes and vaping products as tobacco products. Also, over the past year, the FDA through contracts with state agencies has conducted nearly 100,000 store inspections using minors to check if retailers are asking for ID and denying minors’ attempts to purchase tobacco and e-vapor products. These are two reasons why it is so important to maintain up-to-date training programs for retail-store employees.
Throughout September’s We Card Awareness Month and right up until New Year’s Eve, We Card will accept retailers’ orders for 2018 We Card materials. Retailers rely on We Card’s Age-of-Purchase Calendar—a daily reminder age-calculation tool—and a variety of other point-of-sale tools, e-learning training courses and ID Check-Up mystery-shopping services to help employees prevent tobacco sales to minors.
The FDA has issued an official guidance document for tobacco retailer training programs. We Card’s e-learning training not only matches this federal curriculum but also exceeds it with retail-focused emphasis on customer service, role-playing and interactive gaming, which earned the training an American Business Awards 2013 Bronze Stevie Award as a Best Training Site.
Governors from 31 states have issued Governor’s Proclamations or letters of support for We Card Awareness Month. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The We Card program represents a unified effort among trade associations, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. It was created 22 years ago to support retailers of tobacco and other age-restricted products. Individual retail establishments as well as large retail chains use We Card’s educational and training services to comply with federal and state laws while working to prevent underage tobacco, e-vapor and other age-restricted product sales. NATO is a supporting member of We Card’s ongoing efforts to educate and train retailers.
Thomas A. Briant is executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO). He can be reached at (866) 869-8888 or [email protected]