Local retailers threw their support behind the need for Reading officials to shut off youth access to tobacco and nicotine products through social sources and the Internet at a Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) forum educating parents on students vaping in the schools.
Dan Dewar, owner of the Reading Quick Stop on Main Street spoke to encourage RCASA members and parents to recognize that responsible Reading Retailers are part of the solution and not part of the problem. According to the Center for Disease Control, nationally, 87% of minors obtain tobacco and nicotine from friends and family, not retailers. In Reading almost all minors who possess vapor products like Juul, or other electronic cigarette devices are obtaining them from the Internet or friends and family. Consequently, unless the community addresses the fact that it remains legal for minors to possess and use tobacco and nicotine products once they are in their possession, the problem will likely continue even if it is forced underground by prohibitions at the schools or more stringent sales regulations to legal aged adults.
“Reading retailers conduct thousand of transactions a day and have a compliance rate with tobacco regulations that approaches 100 percent, and we want to go beyond compliance by partnering with RCASA and parents in the community,” said Daniel Dewar, owner of the Reading Quick Stop, a convenience store on Main Street. “Despite investing time and money to train our employees we make occasional mistakes and should be held accountable when we do, but its hard to understand how a community that cares so much fails to support retailers efforts and address youth tobacco access with the same purchase, use and possession tools we use to control alcohol and marijuana.”
Dewar and colleagues from the statewide Coalition for Responsible Retailing pointed to successes in communities like
Seekonk and Monson, where they combine a zero-tolerance policy for possession and use of tobacco products in school, youth purchase and possession regulations that mirror alcohol and marijuana rules when minors are in public setting, and strong education programs that teach youth how to make better decisions regarding vaping.
“Banning products for adults, but not addressing access simply makes products look “cooler” to youth who, like all people their age, seek to push limits,” said Dewar. Retailers are not the problem but we are part of the solution and we look forward to working with RCASA to help Reading achieve our mutual goal of protecting the youth of our community.
Retailers will be working to continue the conversation RCASA started at the high school and the adoption of policies and practices that will effectively address youth vaping in the days ahead.