According to We Card's Best Practices survey -- which now totals more than 1,000 completed surveys -- one in four retailers don't cover new Federal requirements in their training. That's a big number.
Furthermore, the Federal government believes it's important for you to have a written company policy against sales to minors.
So does We Card. And we can help.
Consider using We Card's template - Sample Company or Store Policy - to update your company policy, or if you don't have one, use it as a starting point to map out your policy.
Why have a "written company policy?"
Here are a few reasons why it's important:
- Sets the proper serious tone from the top of your business down through management and all the way to the frontline employee.
- Establishes clarity on the specific requirements the company and employees must follow.
- Serves as another responsible retailing communication tool to re-enforce your other efforts, such as training employees.
- Demonstrates (in just one way) your company's good faith effort toward compliance with government requirements.
There are many other reasons for a written policy, some advocated by human resources experts, some advocated by attorneys. Another important reason is that the federal law, referred to as the Tobacco Control Act, specifically mentions a written policy as a positive thing to have and enforce (without firmly stating that it is a requirement.) Here's what the federal law says,
- adopting and enforcing a written policy against sales to minors;
- informing its employees of all applicable laws;
- establishing disciplinary sanctions for employee noncompliance; and
- requiring its employees to verify age by way of photographic identification or electronic scanning device."
Section 103(q)(1)(F)-(G) of the Tobacco Control Act
If you haven't updated your company policy on underage tobacco sales lately or just don't have one, We Card encourages you to take another look.
First, compare our template against yours, then fill in the gaps if you find any. Following this exercise may help you identify areas where you have a stated policy, or need one, but have nothing to back it up. (e.g., you may require employees to do role-play exercises, but don't have training that ensures they follow through and actually role-play difficult situations). We think you may find areas where you can strengthen and reinforce your policy.
Next, make sure you've addressed state law requirements. You probably know that FDA regulations cover cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco and furthermore FDA intends to regulate OTP and eCigarettes in the future. Many state laws have restricted tobacco and tobacco-related product lists that go beyond cigarettes, smokeless and roll-your-own tobacco. Include those state requirements in your written policy. Use We Card's state law summaries to help identify what those are.
Employee performance and human resources pros can attest to the value of communicating employee expectations. A written policy is an important way to do just that.
And what if you fail a compliance check? Having a written policy in-hand (in addition to your training, in-store signage, mystery shopping and other responsible retailing efforts) will be key to demonstrate your store's good faith efforts toward compliance. (If you'd like to take our best practices survey, click here.)
So get your written company policy started today... or update your existing policy using We Card's template - Sample Company or Store Policy - either way it's good business, good policy and will help make sure you don't sell to someone underage.
The We Card Program, Inc.
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