NACS has issued a statement of position that encourages stores selling e-cigarettes to adopt, as a best practice, a policy of treating these products as age restricted and subjecting them to the same age-verification procedures as those applicable to tobacco products.
NACS’ position was developed by the association’s retail Board of Directors during its most recent meeting. Convenience stores are the largest retail channel for e-cigarette sales, with overall sales of nearly $540 million in 2013, representing 75% of all brick-and mortar sales, excluding kiosks and tobacco only outlets.
“Convenience stores are responsible retailers and conduct more face-to-face age-verification checks than anyone in the world,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour. “Given the uncertain status of e-cigarettes, it just makes sense that convenience stores check IDs as part of the more than 4.5 million age-verification checks that we already conduct every day.”
NACS stated that:
- Retailers should, as a best practice, follow the same applicable federal, state and local laws for verifying the age of purchasers of tobacco and apply these standards for the sale of e-cigarettes.
- NACS will promote effective procedures for retailers to verify sales of age-restricted products and will encourage retailers to utilize these procedures and training tools.
- NACS will work with all appropriate federal organizations to ensure that convenience stores continue to play a leadership role in establishing guidelines that take into account current research related to the age-restricted products.
This is not the first time that the association has taken a leadership role in age-verification practices. NACS is a founding member of the We Card program, which was established in the 1990s to provide training and educational programs to properly use age-verification tools and processes. The We Card program has provided retailers with more than 1.1 million in-store educational kits and has trained more than 350,000 retail employees nationwide.
NACS encourages retailers to use procedures and training tools like those offered by We Card. These training resources include state-law-specific eLearning courses for frontline cashiers and managers that follow FDA Guidance for Tobacco Retailer Training Programs, in-store tools to assist with proper age calculation and spot fake IDs and illegal adult purchases for minors and a wide range of in-store signage and information on how to display this signage. We Card has produced new materials specifically for e-cigarette age verification.
The announcement will likely enhance what convenience stores are already doing in carding for e-cigarettes.
“As responsible retailers, we want to help ensure that minors do not have access to e-cigarettes,” said Armour. “Convenience stores will continue to act responsibly in retailing e-cigarettes and complying with existing laws.”
There are 151,282 convenience stores in the United States — one per every 2,100 people. Cumulatively, U.S. convenience stores serve 160 million customers per day.