Age verification

Wait, how old did you say you are?

What identity verification can do to protect minors.

As early as in the 70’s scientists started studying the gap between chronological age (how old we really are) and subjective age (how old we feel) and its impact on our lives and our overall health. A more recent study from Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) finds that “most children and adolescents feel older than they really are. But this switches at around 25 when the felt age drops behind the chronological age. By age 30, around 70% of people feel younger than they really are.” 

These results are not unexpected – teenagers have always tried to be older than they really are, to be seen as all grown up and welcomed into society as adults. In today’s world, this increasingly means being able to access age-restricted products and it goes well beyond the obvious ones such as alcohol, gambling or adult content. In the UK, for example, if you want to buy some party poppers for your next big birthday, you have to be at least 16. The same goes for that “long-lasting tan from your recent beach vacation” you want to show off – you have to be over 18 to legally use sunbeds. 

Age Verification is complex… how old is old enough?

Age “18” is universally considered “the adult age”, but the actual age when you are eligible for different things really varies between countries: in the USA you have to be at least 35 to run for President, whereas in France you can rule the country as young as at 18 years old. In Switzerland, you have to be at least 18 in the canton of Zug to legally buy tobacco but you can ask your friends from the bordering canton of Schwyz to get you a pack, as legally there is no age limit for such purchase (to be fair, currently Swiss authorities are working on changing the law which for now varies between cantons – in some the age limit for tobacco purchase is 18, in some 16 and in 3 cantons there is no minimum age limit).

Even though globally there are different laws and regulations on this matter, protecting the wellbeing of minors is an important priority for most countries as well as for responsible businesses. Whether you’re a company that sells alcohol, makes vape pens, or produces adult-themed video games or movies, you want to ensure that your product isn’t negatively affecting children. Especially when this product becomes a certain “fashion” – which has happened in the case of vaping among teenagers. This fashion led to a drastic increase in teens using e-cigarettes – in the USA, according to the recent National Youth Tobacco Study, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes. During the past decade, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of states and countries that have passed Purchase Use and Possession (PUP) laws and, despite the comprehensive approach to reducing teen vaping, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reported “clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion.” Therefore, it is crucial to put more focus on minimizing the ability of minors to access vaping devices. And here is where new technologies come to the rescue.

Hauni and Authenteq solve Age Verification for Vaping.

For the first time in the history of tobacco sales, a solution was developed that can actively prevent the use of tobacco products by minors after the product has left the point-of-sale. German-based Hauni Maschinenbau GmbH, the world’s leading provider of technologies to the tobacco industry, partnered with Authenteq to offer a product that will allow e-cigarette makers to truly show their commitment to consumer safety. With Authenteq’s identity verification technology, seamlessly integrated into Hauni’s SmartVaping app, the customer has to verify his/her identity to activate a new e-cigarette and secure it with a unique biometric signature. Thereafter, the SmartVaping app can periodically require the user to do a Selfie Authentication in order to use the e-cigarette. In this manner, it becomes impossible for someone to use a device that was purchased and activated by another person ( a minor cannot use a device that was purchased by an adult). 

With this solution, it is easy to ensure that all users are of legal age and through random selfie checks, put an end to straw purchases (also known as nominee purchase). It is a milestone in revolutionizing the approach to safety in the vaping industry and protecting minors from the use of potentially harmful substances.

What’s up next for effective age verification?

Now, that there is a solution to prevent teenage vaping perhaps someone can come up with smart beer and wine bottles so that only adults can access the contents. If that ever happens Authenteq will be ready to provide the most advanced identity verification solution to make sure it works and cannot be spoofed. 

To see what our identity verification solution can do for your business contact us by clicking the button below.