September is We Card Awareness Month and We Card is focusing on some key reminders for retailers to make sure they do all they can do to prevent underage tobacco and vapor sales.
- Make sure retailers are following Best Practices for Responsible Retailing. Retailers can take a survey here to see how their practices measure up against those We Card has developed over the past 26 years. There are 16 Best Practices from consistent policies to training younger employees that matter when it comes to responsible retailing.
- Stay abreast of laws and regulations particularly around FDA actions related to vapor products. The national 21 year minimum-age for vapor and tobacco products is still fairly new to the public and newly hired employees. Remember, it’s 21 in 2021 and beyond.
Another key reminder is for retailers to stay on top of the challenges around social sourcing – research shows underage youth report getting access 80% to 90% of the time through “social sources” – the gifting, proxy purchase by another, or transfer from one to another, such as “bumming” or “borrowing.”
According to Doug Anderson, We Card's President, social sourcing has been on a steady rise over the past 20 years. "Each time we get new government research reports on social sourcing, the number keeps growing – more and more of those underage are getting age-restricted products through friends, family and others," says Anderson and he encourages retailers to participate in We Card's Pledge Program to redouble efforts to prevent underage sales and identify adult purchases for those underage.
Along with key reminders, there are some important developments as well.
- FDA is restarting compliance checks again after a pause during the Covid outbreak and is expected to quickly ramp up to normal levels of around 10,000 store inspections per month.
- ID reading technology is moving at a fast pace – we encourage retailers to investigate adding ID bar code scanning technology for age validation. We Card has resources to locate a scanner that’s right for their store here.
We Card Awareness Month also means updating in-store training materials including We Card's page-a-day calendar that serves as a daily reminder to check IDs. 2022 materials are now available at We Card's online store.