Age verification gets easier
One of the pressures on the vaping supplies industry, and the vaping community, has been the unfair charge that nicotine is being intentionally marketed to minors. Without any hard evidence, the baseless assumption is made that the marketing of flavored e-liquids targets youth. Some e-cig opponents even continue to maintain that the entire vaping phenomenon is Big Tobacco's attempt to "hook kids on nicotine" – despite the obvious chronological contradiction: E-cigs had already become a hot item several years before Big Tobacco would have anything to do with them. So independent vaping supplies manufacturers and trade groups – who have backed youth sales bans nationally and in the states that have passed such bans – has a strong interest in convincing the public that it is serious about age verification. This will remove a mistaken assumption that has been a pretext for unfair charges.
Enter We Card – a "retail compliance organization" that seeks to foster awareness and integrity among convenience stores and other retail outlets. The group offers signage and compliance information year round, and this month, September 2014, has been declared "We Card Awareness Month." New materials are available for 2015, and retailers are encouraged to order them now. And vapor manufacturers are enthusiastically joining up, reports CSPnet, the news source for convenience stores.
“Our key mission is to elevate the awareness at this time of the year,” says Doug Anderson, the organization's president, “to get retailers to understand FDA regulations and all their ever-changing state and local regulations.” The group offers a minimum-age calendar for states where the minimum purchase age is 21 or 19. New York, for instance, changed its minimum age to 21, effective last May.
Anderson reports that "e-cigarette companies [are] supporting [We Card's] mission and communicating out to their retail partners.”
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has already published "best practices" guidelines several months ago, recommending that stores police themselves in the matter of not selling electronic cigarettes to minors.
The Canadian Convenience Store Association (CCSA) has now issued guidelines, according to the NACS newsletter. The CCSA is treating electronic cigarettes containing nicotine as an illegal product in the absence of any regulation from the Canadian government, but the organization states that non-nicotine vaping products are legal. Their guidelines are recommending no youth sales of non-nicotine liquids and nicotine-free e-cigs, however.
Compliance with age verification restrictions will become an increasingly important issue, as vapers seek to reassure the public that nobody is trying to hook kids on nicotine. This will go a long way toward calming public fears as vaping becomes normalized. Organizations like NACS, CCSA, and We Card will prove to be allies in the matter of public relations.