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    "We Card" Seminars Planned for Ohio Retailers

    Training program offers education, tools to help prevent tobacco sales to minors.

    Ohio's retailers, wholesalers and grocers, representing thousands of businesses in the state, have joined forces to help prevent tobacco sales to minors by sponsoring seven "We Card" training seminars in various locations throughout Ohio over the next six weeks.

    Eight state trade associations whose members have responsibility for the sale of tobacco products are co-sponsors of the 2001 We Card training program, a comprehensive effort designed to help prevent tobacco sales to minors through education and training. Sponsors include: the Ohio Association of Convenience Stores, Ohio Petroleum Marketers Association, Ohio Grocers Association, Ohio Petroleum Council, Ohio Petroleum Retailers and Repair Association, Ohio Association of Tobacco and Candy Distributors, Southwestern Ohio Garage and Gasoline Dealers Association and Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

    "Educating tobacco retailers about the importance of complying with state law is a key component of our business," said Josh Sanders, executive director, Ohio Association of Convenience Stores. "With increasing monitoring of Ohio retailers, such as compliance checks and sting operations by local health departments, understanding Ohio's tobacco laws becomes even more critical."

    The 2001 training sessions mark the fifth time in the past six years that this group has collaborated to bring the valuable training program to Ohio. In past years, hundreds of Ohio retailers have attended We Card training sessions and learned a variety of techniques on how to enforce the laws while avoiding confrontation.

    The We Card program is particularly important to Ohio retailers because it provides the guidance and training retailers need to understand Ohio's laws governing the sale of tobacco products and to keep minors from purchasing tobacco at retail, Sanders said. It is against Ohio law to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 years of age and for youth under age 18 to possess tobacco products.

    Ongoing compliance checks by local and state agencies have dramatically increased the need for retailer education, said Thomas Jackson, president and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association.

    "Clearly, our primary goal is to keep kids and tobacco apart," Jackson said. "We firmly believe that educating Ohio retailers by bringing the We Card training program directly to them can help ensure that Ohio's youth do not have access to tobacco in retail locations."

    The 2001 training seminars will be held in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Findlay between July 31 and August 3. Seminars are available free of charge to store owners, managers and employees. The two-hour seminars feature interactive sessions that teach retailers how to prevent underage sales of tobacco products while avoiding confrontation. Retailers who would like more information or would like to register can call 1-888-872-4603.

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