PhotoRetailers, under increasing pressure to prevent tobacco and alcohol sales to underage consumers, are constantly looking for ways to increase their compliance with the law. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is tapping into technology.

This month the company is launching a new technology in each of its 7-Eleven stores in the New York metropolitan area that will scan the 2-D code on the back of a customer's driver license or identification card when age-restricted products are being purchased. This scan will verify the birth date stored on the card. The company says it will not store any other information about the consumer.

"We believe that this new system takes compliance at 7-Eleven to the next level," said Keith Jones, 7-Eleven's senior director of government affairs.

The New York market has been a troublesome compliance area for retailers, especially convenience stores, which tend to draw a lot of young customers.

"Over the last 15 years, laws have been enacted and enforced to restrict the sale of alcohol, tobacco and potential inhalants to minors. Although making an illegal under-age purchase is harder than ever, there is still work to be done and preventative measures to be taken," Jones said.

"7-Eleven responded to the needs of its franchisees," says franchise owner Iris Yost. "We are passionate about not selling age-restricted items to minors. Because laws often place the burden on the store operator, franchisee or selling cashier, we need every protection available.  The ID Scan technology we now have will go a long way in stemming wrongful age-restricted sales."

7-Eleven touts its past efforts to reduce illegal underage sales over the last 30 years. In 1984, the company says it developed its "Come of Age" training and awareness program that specifically targeted illegal sale of alcohol to minors, after-hours sales, sales made on behalf of a minor and consuming alcohol on store premises. The program expanded in 1994 to include all age-restricted products: tobacco, lottery tickets and potential inhalants.

7-Eleven said it is underwriting the cost to upgrade all franchise registers, at no-cost to any of its franchisees.

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