Retailers are facing increasing public and regulatory pressure to block sales of alcohol and tobacco products to teenagers, especially in California, which has some of the strictest age-restriction enforcement in the country.
7-Eleven is adopting new technology to help stop the sale of age-restricted products to underage customers at its 1,600 California-based stores. The company says it will start scanning the barcode on the back of driver licenses during sales of such products.
The barcode will confirm both the age of the customer and the authenticity of the driver’s license that has been presented to the clerk. No customer information will be recorded or stored, the company said.
“We believe that this new system takes compliance at 7-Eleven to the next level,” said Keith Jones, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs for 7-Eleven, in a statement.
The company noted that its efforts to combat underage sales date back to its 1984 “Come of Age” training and awareness program, which sought to restrict sales of alcohol only to adults. Tobacco, lottery tickets and potential inhalants were added to the program’s list of age-restricted products in 1994.
The company has also teamed with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)’s RUOK? (read: Are You O.K.?) program to combat drunk driving. Under its partnership with OTS, staff at 7-Eleven’s California stores will wear buttons that read: “RUOK? Stop asking stupid questions.”
A series of signs will be posted in 7-Eleven stores bearing “ROUK?” slogans and questions meant to highlight the absurdity of asking inebriated people if they are okay.
The “RUOK?” buttons and other advertising materials will show up in California 7-Eleven stores in May.