OLYMPIA — Sept. 28, 2021— This month, independent grocers and convenience store members of the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) continue their efforts to keep age-restricted products like e-cigarettes, vapor pens and alcohol away from minors with the “We Card Awareness Month” campaign.
For more than 25 years now, retailers have observed the campaign’s anniversary each September, as a way of redoubling the industry’s commitment to prevent underage tobacco and vapor sales.
According to industry research, underage youth report getting access to tobacco, alcohol and vaping products more than 80 percent of the time through so-called “social sourcing“– asking adults to acquire the products for them. Targeting adult purchasers remains a primary component of the program.
Key components of the program include the distinctive red, black and yellow We Card materials prominently displayed in grocery and convenience stores at check stands, on store doors and in store windows. Retailers involved in the We Card program also have access to education and training for their employees, teaching them how to accurately check for proper identification and how to handle difficult situations that can occur at point-of-sale.
“It can be difficult to easily determine a customer’s age without asking to see ID – even more so now with the use of facemasks. Fortunately the training and support materials provided through We Card gives store employees extra skills to handle point-of-sale situations,” said WFIA President & CEO Tammie Hetrick.
“WFIA members are proud to participate in the We Card program and remain committed to training employees to prevent underage sales and identify adult purchases for those underage. Our industry’s continued commitment to using traditional techniques — like asking to see ID — and new ones — like using barcode scanning ID cards for age validation — is making a difference and keeping these products out of the hands of minors.”
Data from Washington state’s Healthy Youth Survey indicates that 80 percent of 10th grade students reported getting e-cigarettes 80 percent of the time from non-commercial sources. This includes “borrowing” or “bumming” them from someone else; getting them from someone 18 years or older; or taking them from a store or family member.
To help further heighten awareness of the campaign, Gov. Jay Inslee declared September “We Card Awareness Month” in Washington state. The ceremonial proclamation also highlights the important role retailers play in preventing sales of age-restricted products, including tobacco and e-cigarettes, to minors.