Designed To Deter Underage Sales of Age-Restricted Products
Come Of Age is 7-Eleven, Inc.'s public awareness and store personnel training program that was first developed in 1984 to prohibit the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages. The focus of the original program was to prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors; to anyone purchasing these products for minors; after the legal sales hours; to anyone intoxicated, and for on-premises consumption. The program was expanded in 1994 to include all age-restricted products.
Its components include customized Computer-Based Training (CBT) programs available on-line at all 7-Eleven® stores, plus in-store signs that remind store personnel to check the age identification of guests who want to purchase age-restricted products but who look underage, and to alert guests that 7-Eleven "IDs" those under a certain age.
Times have changed since the program's inception 22 years ago. Young people are more creative in their attempts to purchase alcohol illegally. With violence on the rise in our society, we find that more people are demonstrating their anger at being turned down in attempts to purchase age-restricted products with verbal and physical abuse toward store personnel.
In addition, there is a major concern over sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to those underage.
7-Eleven recognizes these concerns in society as well as its duty to be a responsible retailer. That is why the company’s training program reflects the challenges it faces as a retailer today and strives to meet the needs of store personnel who must refuse illegal sales.
Before 7-Eleven began updating Come of Age in the early 1990s, the company surveyed its store managers and franchisees to learn what obstacles there are in selling age-restricted products and what assistance they need to ensure these products are sold in a responsible manner. 7-Eleven also held focus groups with young people ages 21-25 to learn how they would obtain alcoholic beverages and cigarettes before they were of legal age.
The information gained through these surveys and focus groups conducted by 7-Eleven is the foundation on which the company built its new awareness program.
7-Eleven also formed an advisory group of store operators and management personnel from various disciplines to serve as a sounding board for its new program development. In addition, the company worked with a psychiatrist whose expertise is in workplace violence and trauma to ensure that the materials developed provide solid training in the techniques of refusing illegal purchases and diffusing potentially dangerous situations.
7-Eleven’s computer-based training program for store employees provides instruction on:
- the laws concerning the sale of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, potential inhalants and other age-restricted products, such as lottery tickets;
- how to observe guests and their behavior to determine whether age-restricted products can be sold, and how to recognize invalid forms of age identification;
- how to refuse an illegal sale in a safe and non-confrontational way, and
- complying with national tobacco sales regulations.
The training includes quizzes and discussion to assist store personnel in learning the various laws regarding the sales of these products plus practice sessions and simulated role-playing in order that store personnel become comfortable with refusing improper sales.
Regionally-specific versions of the program have been produced for use in Canada, Nevada, New York and Texas for employee certification and to meet those area’s regulations.
To support the program inside the store, 7-Eleven continues to post signs to alert guests that 7-Eleven asks for identification when a guest looks under the age of 27 (and in some areas under 30).