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ARLINGTON, Va. — A program aimed at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young consumers is marking its 20th year this month.
We Card launched nationally in 1995. At the time, reports found that underage consumers could purchase tobacco products at retail stores with 40 percent to 60 percent success. Today, that number is down to about 10 percent, according to the program.
We Card Awareness Month, celebrated through September, seeks to increase responsible retailing awareness along with the availability of 2016 We Card materials. From Labor Day to New Year's Eve, 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.
This year's 20th anniversary brings new features to We Card Awareness Month, including:
- A new smartphone site, We Card NOW, that provides retail management and employees with quick access to its resources, including an age calculator and digital version of its 365-page-a-day calendar that store cashiers use to "card" customers.
- New resources to help merchants of e-vapor products identify and deny minors' attempts to purchase, such as: 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 new to the concept of handling age-restricted product sales; and an "E-Cig and Vapor Central" dedicated home on wecard.org where resources can be quickly found, ordered and used.
"We Card was a pioneering program in 1995 to help introduce the concept of responsible retailing on a massive scale and 'carding' was a sometimes-used term. Today, carding is commonplace and We Card is forging new resources for all age-restricted products, including those designed to prevent e-vapor product sales to minors," said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. NACS sits on the We Card board and is a founding member.
"We have many key stakeholders to thank for the tremendous 20-year track record We Card has in training and educating retailers," added Doug Anderson, president of We Card, "and vital to our efforts is the important collaboration across retailers, state and national associations, manufacturers, state agencies and law enforcement."