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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Convenience store retailers are encouraged to adopt a policy of treating electronic cigarettes as age-restricted items and subjecting them to the same age-verification procedures as other tobacco products, NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, advised in a statement released today.
NACS developed this position at its recent board of directors meeting. C-stores are by far the largest retail channel for e-cigarette sales, with overall sales of nearly $540 million, representing three-quarters of all brick-and-mortar sales, excluding kiosks and tobacco-only outlets, the trade group reported.
"Convenience stores are responsible retailers and conduct more face-to-face age-verification checks than anyone in the world," said NACS President and CEO Hank Armour. "Given the uncertain status of e-cigarettes, it just makes sense that convenience stores check IDs as part of the more than 4.5 million age-verification checks that we already conduct every day."
In today's position, NACS made three specific statements:
- Retailers should, as a best practice, follow the same applicable federal, state and local laws for verifying the age of purchasers of tobacco and apply these standards for the sale of e-cigarettes.
- NACS will promote effective procedures for retailers to verify sales of age-restricted products and will encourage retailers to utilize these procedures and training tools.
- NACS will work with all appropriate federal organizations to ensure that convenience stores continue to play a leadership role in establishing guidelines that take into account current research related to age-restricted products.
NACS has taken a leadership role in other age-verification practices. The Alexandria, Va.-based association is a founding member of the "We Card" program, established in the 1990s to provide training and educational programs to properly use age-verification tools and processes.
"As responsible retailers, we want to help ensure that minors do not have access to e-cigarettes,” said Armour. "Convenience stores will continue to act responsibly in retailing e-cigarettes and complying with existing laws."
Founded in 1961, Alexandria, Va.-based NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.