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WFIA Kicks Off September with ‘We Card’ Awareness Month

Five little words – “Can I see your ID?” – can make a customer feel youthful. It can also help stop sales of age-restricted products.

That’s the impetus behind September’s “We Card” Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to bolster existing responsible retailing efforts to identify and deny underage purchase attempts of age-restricted products like tobacco and vaping products.

“A split second decision by a retail clerk can keep underage products out of the hands of underage customers. Helping retail employees identify and deny underage purchases of age-restricted products is one of the most effective ways of keeping tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vape products safely behind the counter,” said Tammie Hetrick, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association. WFIA represents independent grocery stores, neighborhood and convenience stores.

In addition to providing retailers with employee training, signage, and age calculation tools, the new campaign also focuses on so-called “social sourcing.” It’s estimated that 80-90 percent of underage youth access tobacco and vape products from adults buying or giving it to them. The “Be a Real Influencer” campaign encourages retail clerks to be comfortable saying “no” to purchases for someone under 21.  

In Washington state, customers must be 21 years or older to purchase tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, tobacco in any form), e-cigarettes, vapor products, cigarette paper or wrappers. Violations are gross misdemeanors. Licensed retailers who violate the law are subject to having their license suspended or revoked, or a fine of up to $200 for the first offense. Employees who violate the law are subject to a penalty of $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.

To help underscore the effort, Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a proclamation officially declaring September as “We Card Awareness Month” in Washington state.

“This campaign is away for retailers to remind customers about the law, and to reinforce training and awareness activities with employees,” added Hetrick. “Asking to see ID for anyone who looks to be 30 or younger is the best way to enforce our state’s laws. We appreciate Gov. Inslee lending his support to this effort through his proclamation.

“It takes all of us, working together, to keep these products out of the hands of teens and children.”

To purchase resources for the campaign, visit this link: