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New “21” Minimum-Age Law takes effect in California

05/2016

and FDA issues new regulations on e-cigarettes and other products

On June 9th, California becomes the second state to change its tobacco minimum-age sales law to 21 years old for tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping products.* Hawaii changed to “21” at the beginning of 2016. New York City, Boston and Kansas City are currently at the “21” minimum-age and Chicago switches to “21” on July 1st. And FDA issued a 499-page “deeming regulations” that covers e-cigarettes, vaping products, cigars, hookah tobacco and other products. For more on California, click here, for FDA, click here. But first, the California “21” law.

If you’re a California retailer or a retailer in an area where the age has changed, from 18 to 21 years old, (*U.S. Active Duty Military personnel are exempt from this new law. The minimum age for tobacco products remains 18 for them.) make sure you're prepared.

Are You Ready? What about your in-store signage?

What’s more, your employees need to be equipped so that they’re “trained-and-confident” in understanding what’s expected of them.

May I suggest several TO DOs to get ready:

  • #1 Re-Train Employees
    When there’s a major law change, it’s a great time to get your employees re-trained. It sets the stage for compliance with the law and conditions your employees to embrace the minimum-age change to 21 years old while re-enforcing the techniques to “card,” indentify minors and deny their attempts to purchase age-restricted products.
  • #2 Inform employees of state law requirements
    Employees need to know not only what California law requires but also what the federal law and FDA regulations require. The same goes for any local laws that may differ from the federal or state requirement. Here too, We Card has free downloads at our Resource Center -- www.wecard.org. Go to We Card’s State Law Summaries where you’ll find the minimum-age requirement, the restricted products, the acceptable forms of ID, and if there is a government state sign requirement (and how to get one).
  • #3 Use an Age Calculation Tool at the Point-of-Sale
    Whether it’s built into your cash register with an age-prompt (change your system to reflect the new “21” minimum-age requirement!) or it’s one of We Card’s tools, require your employees to use it each-and-every time.

    We Card’s mobile site – WECARDNOW.COM has: 

    • eCalendar It’s just like We Card’s Age of Purchase Calendar that many retailers use at the point-of-sale when carding customers – but it’s now on your phone! Select which state you’re in and choose the calendar you’d like to use (tobacco, alcohol, a combined tobacco-alcohol or e-Cig/Vapor calendar.)
    • Age Calculator Another great tool to use when carding a customer. This one calculates exact ages when you enter a customer’s date-of-birth and it indicates whether it’s “OKAY TO SELL” or “DO NOT SELL” for Tobacco, Vapor and Alcohol products. Very handy and it’s state law specific as well.
  • #4 Equip your store with We Card “21” Signage
    We have a variety of “21” decals and stickers for you to use to communicate your We Card policy. Choose what’s best for you. They serve two purposes:
    • 1) supporting your employees (and reminding them) to “card,” identify minors and deny their attempts at purchasing age-restricted products, and
    • 2) communicating to customers your responsible retailing efforts.
  • #5 Post any required state government sign and keep up-to-date on the law’s implementation.

If you’re a California retailer you’ll need to keep tabs on the new state law and required signs. Check here for details and new developments. There’s also a Stake Act sign which is available through the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California at 1-800-258-9090 ext. 230 or ext. 103. (Keep in mind that the law was enacted with very short notice – approximately 30 days – so state signs may not be ready yet.)

Thanks again.

Doug Anderson
President
The We Card Program, Inc.

© 2016 Copyright - The We Card Program, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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