RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to promote proper age verification in states increasing their minimum purchase age from 18 to 21, Altria Group has worked with the We Card organization to develop new store-level signage, as well as created its own poster program to help deter adults from providing tobacco products to minors, officials said.
With 12 states this year alone deciding to raise the legal buying age, Steven Callahan, a spokesperson for Altria Group Distribution Co., Richmond, Va., said the company has worked with Arlington, Va.-based We Card Program to update its signage and reference calendars to help retailers with the transition. To date, Altria has provided the materials to retailers in six states: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
“We know retailers play a critical role in preventing underage access to all tobacco products,” Callahan told CSP Daily News. “Our goal with these efforts is to help ensure that retail remains the most trusted place to responsibly sell tobacco products.”
In conjunction with the signage, Altria will also offer reimbursements to retailers for training time on the We Card program, which will include online training and a mystery shop program in states that have raised or will raise their tobacco buying age.
A second part of Altria’s offer concerns so-called “social sources” of tobacco, which include family, friends and other adults who supply underage people with product. To help with this concern, Altria has developed complimentary point-of-sale (POS) signage reminding customers not to buy tobacco products for minors. The signage also includes a QR code linking customers to additional information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Altria officials have declared their support for state efforts to raise the minimum buying age to 21. Soon after Ohio and New York decided to make the change, Howard Willard, chairman and CEO of Altria Group, Richmond, Va., said, “Now is the time to move to 21, which is by far the best way to stop the rise in underage e-vapor use and is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. It will also pave the way for e-vapor products to realize their enormous harm-reduction potential for millions of adult smokers 21 and older.”