Recently there has been much debate on which alcohol and tobacco products should and should not be available to the public and where they can be purchased. While some people believe that the customer should have the right to purchase anything they like as long as they are not against the law, there are groups who are pushing to change the regulations that dictate what is available for purchase and where based on the potential health effects products could have.
One of the c-store industry's most controversial categories has been tobacco. While the early regulatory changes in the tobacco industry were primarily centered around cigarettes and who could buy them, the evolution of the industry has brought new tobacco products and new controversy. The popularity of vaping and electronic cigarettes has caused government to take another look at how these new tobacco products are being sold.
What's the issue?
Vaping and electronic cigarettes have an added appeal because of the flavoring that is available. Unfortunately, this appeal is causing more and more underage children to start vaping, and eventually become addicted to the tobacco.
Congress sees that this is an issue and has placed it into the hands of the FDA. The Food and Drug Administration was to conduct research and understand flavored e-vapor products better. After much thought,the Food and Drug Administration plans to ban sales of most "kid-friendly" flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores and gas stations around the country, in an effort to reduce the popularity of vaping among young people.
Once into full effect, your store will be affected by this ban. You will no longer be able to sell flavored e-vapes in general. Because of this, there are two things to take into consideration:
Right or Wrong
Whether this is necessary or not, is not up for debate. Yes, it restricts consumer choice, yet it protects consumers, especially children. It is important to acknowledge the FDA has made a decision and store owners must follow the law. Any action against the law will lead you to be prosecuted and held accountable. As store owners, it is your duty to follow the law and protect your community. Your customers may not understand why you have stopped selling flavored e-vapes. As an owner, it is your duty to inform those, who walk through your doors, that this is not because of your actions but a legal nationwide cause. By explaining this to your customer in a calm and humble manner, it will add clarity and assist the customer in understanding how big this really is.
While sales may be affected by the ban of flavored e-vapes, you need to think on how to recover those losses, if any. Once your customer understands flavored e-vapes are no longer available, not only at your store but at every store, you will need to pull their focus onto another item. If you have to break the news to a customer, quickly offer an alternative. You know your customers best and this alternative will be different for every customer. By offering a substitute product, your customer will be more likely to still make a purchase at your establishment.
The ban of flavored e-vapes may take some adjusting. This adjustment will not only be for you but for your customers as well. As a retailer make sure your customer understands the circumstances and be sure to offer the alternative option.