Controlling underage vaping must be a collaboration between the policymakers and the vaping industry. BIDI® Vapor stands by its promise of integrity and involves its retailers to join its advocacy to end this problem.
The Underage Vaping Problem
When vaping came into the scene in 2003, it had grown its market into massive proportions. However, this growth gave rise to a new problem that parents and the health sector had to deal with—underage vaping, wherein millions of adolescents have been hooked.
Adolescents are prohibited from vaping or using tobacco products because nicotine, the addictive chemical in these products, affects their brains’ development. The chemical has adverse effects on adolescent brain centers that control attention, impulse control, learning, and mood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Taking nicotine at a young age also makes them more prone to addiction to other harmful and prohibited substances.
Adolescents prefer flavored vapes that are fruity or sweet, according to the CDC. To curb this, the US FDA enforced more stringent measures to prevent them from accessing vapes and created policies for vape companies to market their products without adolescent appeal. These include changes in packaging, flavor, and advertising.
According to Time Magazine, the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported that about 20% of US high school students and 5% of middle school students had an e-cigarette in the last month, or about 3.6 million adolescents. This number has decreased from 27.5% and 10.5% from 2019, yet this current number is still alarming.
BIDI® Vapor: A Brand with Integrity
New regulations imposed by the FDA forced vape companies to adjust to many things to abide by these. One vape company, BIDI® Vapor, took this new advocacy seriously by introducing multi-level age-gating measures and involving its retail partners in brick-and-mortar stores. These age-gating measures are integrated into its online stores and physical stores. Federal and state laws prohibit the sale of vape products to individuals under 21 years old.
The Retailer Pledge
Once retailers sign up to become official distributors of the BIDI® Stick, they must sign a Retailer Pledge. The Pledge is a set of clear and specific guidelines set by BIDI® Vapor in compliance with underage vaping restrictions. Retailers who affix their signature to the Pledge affirm their commitment to observe the restrictions. Violating the terms of the agreement under the Retailer Pledge means forfeiting the right to distribute the BIDI® Stick.
Comprehensive Age-Verification Process
Meanwhile, another age-verification process is also adopted in the online platform through dependable age-verification software. Further strengthening the process requires a government-issued identification card, a signature-upon-delivery policy, and a limit of 30 BIDI® Sticks per customer per month. Moreover, BIDI® Vapor also requires their retailers to only allow BIDI® Stick purchases via vending machines in adult-only facilities.
Mystery Shoppers and Employee Training
Moreover, to ensure that the pledge terms are observed, BIDI® Vapor sends mystery shoppers to its retail partner stores. Retailers are required to establish a hotline to report non-compliant sales. They must also have their employees undergo comprehensive training on regulations and guidelines prohibiting the product’s sale to individuals under 21 years old and youth access prevention. Lastly, their employees must sign an acknowledgment form, saying they read and understood the guidelines.
Other terms in the Pledge include:
Prohibiting the distribution of free samples to customers,
No bundling of BIDI® Sticks as part of promotions of other e-cigarettes or other consumable products,
Conducting routine audit
Advertising restrictions of the BIDI® Stick without the permission of BIDI® Vapor,
Not marketing the BIDI® Stick as a therapeutic or smoking cessation tool or as a healthier option than other tobacco products, and
Not opening and redistributing the products in smaller amounts.
What Happens If Retailers Breach the Pledge?
BIDI® Vapor does not allow establishments or entities with a history of selling to underage individuals to become retailers of the BIDI® Stick. However, if it discovers that a retailer breaches the Pledge, BIDI® Vapor has the right to discontinue the partnership and distribution rights.
The Retailer Pledge may have many restrictions, but it is necessary to observe how to protect the youth and follow the law. BIDI® Vapor also wants its retailers to adopt a similar mindset and advocacy on youth protection.