Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed September as We Card Awareness month to honor the program that trains retail employees to check the legal age of customers before they purchase tobacco or alcohol and vaping products.
Washington Retail has joined The Washington Food Industry Association and the Northwest Grocery Association in raising awareness of the importance of the program.
“Retailers want to provide their employees on the front lines with every possible tool to prevent the sale of age-restricted products to minors,” said Renée Sunde, president and CEO of the Washington Retail Association. “The We Card program has been very effective at giving retail employees the confidence to properly identify underage customers and deny purchases. That’s why continuous training, like that provided by We Card is so crucial as we look to keep e-cigarettes and other age-restricted products out of the hands of minors — or those who provide them to minors.”
Data show that vaping is a particularly troublesome trend among underage users.
New data from the FDA suggests that teen vaping is reaching epidemic levels in the US, doubling in usage between 2018 and 2019 nationwide from about 2 million users to over 5 million. Last fall, Gov. Inslee enacted a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products following a number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in Washington state.
The act of asking for identification and displaying signage about the program can act as a deterrent to buy.
“The simple act of asking for ID can mean the difference in an illegal sale to a minor. Our members take this responsibility very seriously, carding everyone under 30 and asking for proper ID,” said Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association. “Asking to see ID and walking through the age-verification process can be stressful, but it’s essential if we’re going to prevent sales to underage customers.