September 8, 2016 (updated 10/5/16)
ARLINGTON, VA – As of August 8, 2016, new FDA regulations expanded the list of regulated products to include cigars, e-cigarettes and vaping products, hookah and pipe tobacco to name just a few.
“The FDA’s focus on these new products is a perfect opportunity to re-invigorate retailers’ store level efforts on preventing illegal sales and their commitment to compliance,” according to Doug Anderson, President of We Card.
FDA has undertaken nationwide law enforcement checks and in FFY 2016 alone conducted more than 134,000 compliance checks. Since 2010, FDA has conducted 640,000 retailer compliance checks covering every state, Washington, DC and U.S. territories and issued nearly 8,200 civil money penalties against retailers ranging from $250 to $11,000. In October 2015, FDA began issuing no tobacco sale orders (NTSO) against repeat violators.
Governors from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have issued Governor’s Proclamations or Letters of Support for We Card Awareness Month and more Governors are expected to do so all month long.
Twenty years ago the retailer non-compliance rate was 40%+ (rate of sale to minors) while today government compliance statistics show compliance is high at 80-90% for traditional tobacco products. Yet with these newly regulated products, retailers need to adjust their training and ensure their employees know what’s expected of them.
We Card’s Awareness Month aims to boost retailer commitment to compliance along with the availability of 2017 training and materials. Right after Labor Day, retailers prepare for the coming year by ordering We Card in-store materials and lining up their employees for We Card’s online training courses.
“We Card is a critical training-and-education resource for convenience stores and one of the main reasons ‘carding’ and responsible retailing is a mainstream business function today for all age-restricted products,” said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores and a We Card board member. NACS is a founding board member of We Card.
With the advent of the new FDA regulations governing e-vapor products and e-cigarettes, We Card has uniquely focused in-store materials and tools that include:
- New “Under 18, No E-Vapor: WE CARD” in-store signage
- A new in-store E-Vapor kit of resources that is especially suited for “vape” stores who are new to the concept of handling age-restricted product sales.
- An “E-Cig and Vapor Central” dedicated home on wecard.org where resources can be quickly found, ordered and used.
“The National Grocers Association has long supported We Card as a founding board member. It’s a vital resource for independent supermarkets’ training and education needs and aligns with our industry’s high compliance priorities for age-restricted products,” said Peter Larkin, President and CEO of the National Grocers Association.
FDA has issued official guidance for Tobacco Retailer Training Programs and We Card’s elearning training not only matches this federal curriculum but exceeds it with retail-focused emphasis on customer service, role-playing and interactive gaming – earning the training an American Business Awards 2013 Bronze Stevie® Award as a Best Training Site.
About We Card: The We Card Program, Inc. is a national non-profit organization that represents a unified effort among trade associations, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. It was created 21 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. National and state retail trade associations, government officials, community groups and others also support We Card's ongoing efforts to educate and train retailers.