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ARLINGTON, Va. -- As We Card enters its 18th year, the coalition is calling on retailers to keep up the fight against allowing minors to purchase tobacco products.
The We Card program, recognized across the United States for its yellow and red signage that warns "Under 18, No Tobacco: We Card," began in December 1995. September has since become known as We Card Awareness Month because retailers are beginning to order We Card materials -- including the daily age-of-purchase calendar -- this time of year, according to Doug Anderson, president of We Card.
In addition to in-store materials, the We Card program offers training materials to retailers so they can educate their employees about selling tobacco products. The training materials cover federal tobacco laws, as well as those specific to a retailer's state.
We Card is also beginning to educate retailers on state laws regulating electronic cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to propose federal regulations in the near future. In fact, at least two electronic cigarette companies -- NJOY and Ballantyne Brands -- recently joined We Card.
"The good news is that youth access to tobacco retail is down," Anderson said. "Preventing illegal sales to minors remains a top priority for retailers and We Card."
In 1992, the Synar Amendment of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act required states -- including Washington, D.C. and the eight U.S. territories -- to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18. Citing the 2012 Synar Report, We Card said successful attempts by minors to buy tobacco products has decreased from 40 percent to 9.1 percent in the past 15 years. Compliance with FDA regulations is about 6 percent, according to We Card's analysis.
"We can confidently say that We Card is one of, if not, the most successful corporate social responsibility efforts ever," said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. "Along with state and federal law enforcement, the nation's retailers through We Card have helped dramatically reduce youth access to tobacco."