The following article was submitted by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO)
NATO serves on the We Card board of directors and supports the We Card program. This week, We Card President Doug Anderson answered retailers’ questions related the challenges of verifying the legal age of customers who desire to purchase tobacco products during the current COVID-19 Pandemic and in the new legal age era of 21.
Q: How are retailers adjusting to COVID-19 and their responsibility to “card” customers safely?
A: First, and it goes without saying, we’re all amazed at the efforts retailers have made to adjust to COVID-19 to keep operating to provide food and products to the country.
Prior to COVID-19, the face-to-face transactions at the retail counter involved retail employees using age calculation tools such as ID bar-code scanners either as part of the point-of-sale (POS) systems or with a smartphone app like We Card’s Age Checker App, Other tools include date-of-birth data entry into their POS system or comparing the customer ID’s date-of-birth to the We Card Age of Purchase Calendar’s date. Now, we’re seeing these same tools used with self-distancing and safety adjustments, together with a few modifications:
First, retailers are configuring ID bar-code scanners or smartphone apps to allow customers to complete self-scans on the customer side of the sales counter. It’s important to remember that ID scanning is just one of the steps during carding.
Second, customers are showing their IDs through any existing plastic or glass partitions or placing them on the counter face up for examination. This replaces having to hold the customer ID by hand.
Third, retailers are using gloves to handle customer IDs.
With or without the dynamics of the COVID-19 impact at retail, electronic age verification – like ID scanning – is here to stay, and we believe it’s the preferred or best age-calculation tool going forward. We encourage each retail store to check on existing company policies and develop practices that are most appropriate for their customers, employees and regions.