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ITCAN rolls out biometric age pass for vape stores, while Washington debates

ITCAN rolls out biometric age pass for vape stores, while Washington debates

Biometric measures for age verification are gaining ground in Canada and Washington state, as retailers and regulators try to prevent youth from accessing vapes and other restricted products.

Imperial Tobacco Canada (ITCAN), which produces most of Canada’s major cigarette brands as well as the VUSE brand of vapes, has announced the expansion of a pilot for a biometric pass to access its VUSE retail stores. According to a release, customers who sign up for the VUSE Pass through a one-time age verification process will be able to verify their age at VUSE outlets with a biometric palm scan.

The nation-wide rollout follows a successful pilot program in Toronto.

“We say we are committed to preventing youth vaping, and we mean it,” says Frank Silva, the president and CEO of ITCAN. “A root cause of the problem is that kids unfortunately have access to vaping products. We’ve taken an important first step by making sure that we do more to control access to our own stores.”

Silva says there is a lack of government leadership around ensuring proper age verification procedures for restricted products. “Governments have all the tools necessary to stop retailers from selling to minors. They are simply not being enforced.”

Washington still wishy-washy on biometrics for age verification

Lawmakers in Washington State are deciding whether or not regulators will be able to add fingerprint scans for biometric age verification to their ID toolkit. The State Liquor and Cannabis Board has been considering a pilot project for biometric age verification. But, as the Center Square reports, doubts and questions about equity, security and oversight continue to arise.

According to Washington’s Director of Policy and External Affairs, Justin Nordhorn, biometric integration into ID checks is just a matter of time. But risks and challenges include the potential for inaccuracy in biometric systems such as facial recognition, and the question of who gets access to any personal identity data that is collected.

Nordhorn told the state legislature that, were a pilot program to proceed, it would make sense to begin with large grocery chains, which are already required to scan an ID document when selling alcohol.

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