Helps Protect Your Licenses!

Responsible Retailers of New York Launches Online Tobacco Sales Training for Store Personnel

   The New York Association of Convenience Stores is pleased to announce the launch of an online tobacco sales training curriculum that enables retailers to affordably train store employees when you want and where you want in order to protect your store's tobacco and lottery licenses.

   Rather than waiting for an approved provider to schedule the next live training class in your area, starting today you can have your cashiers take the certified training via Internet in your store, main office, or at their home. They can even stop midway through and pick up where they left off the next day.

   The Responsible Retailers of New York Online Training Program is a joint education initiative among NYACS, the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, and the Coalition for Responsible Tobacco Retailing, which administers the national "We Card" program.

   The highly interactive online course has been approved by the New York State Department of Health. Fee is $40 per person. Current NYACS and FIANYS members receive a $20 discount.

Why It's So Important

   During the past 12 months, at least 2,400 stores have been fined for selling tobacco to minors, and nearly 100 have had their tobacco and lottery licenses suspended for six months due to underage sales that could have been prevented through training.

   "Getting your employees trained and certified can literally make the difference between keeping or losing your store's tobacco and lottery licenses," said NYACS President James Calvin. "In the past, independent retailers in outlying areas have been at a disadvantage because of the infrequency, distance and cost of classroom training."

   New York uses a point system for retail tobacco enforcement. If a store accumulates three points or more within any three-year period, its tobacco and lottery licenses are subject to suspension for six months  – a potential death sentence for C-stores that rely heavily on those two product categories to drive retail traffic.

   The first time a store is convicted of failing an undercover tobacco sting, the operator is fined $300 to $1,000 and assigned two points on its tobacco enforcement record. The second time, if it happens within the ensuing three years, the penalty is a $500 to $1,500 fine plus another two points. By exceeding the cumulative 3-point threshold, the store would forfeit its tobacco and lottery licenses for six months.

   However, if the employee who made the underage sale had previously been trained and certified by a Health Department-approved program like the Responsible Retailers of New York Online Training Program, the store is only assigned one point for that violation. In the example above, if both cashiers had training certification, the store would only incur two points, staying below the threshold, so it could continue to sell tobacco and lottery to adult customers.

The certification, and its license protections, cannot be issued retroactively. The law rewards voluntary action by responsible retailers to pro-actively train and certify their employees before such sales occur. It's not enough that the store has trained one or some of its employees. In order to qualify for one point instead of two. the individual who made the underage sale must have been certified. Thus, retailers are advised to train every employee who gets behind the counter -- store managers, clerks, and cashiers -- BEFORE they get behind the counter.

About the Course

   The course is designed for owners, operators, and employees of convenience stores, supermarkets, service stations, and other establishments licensed to sell tobacco products for off-premise consumption.

   Using major elements of the national "We Card" program, it covers the health toll of tobacco; New York tobacco laws and policies; restricted tobacco products; penalties for prohibited sales; acceptable forms of identification; how to properly examine ID and spot fake ID; how to confidently refuse sales; plus other topics, tools and resources. In addition, it includes new FDA regulations as well.

   The state Department of Health's procedure for certification includes completing a certificate with store owner information, signing it, and returning it to NYACS for formal processing.  The online training incorporates this step by enabling trainees who complete the training and pass the end-of-training test to download the certificate, print it out, complete it with their supervisor, and mail it to NYACS. Once the certificate is signed by NYACS, the certification is valid for three years.

Link to the Responsible Retailers Online Training