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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Agreement with BP Amoco to Curb Tobacco Sales to Minors
Deal Is Third This Year To Protect Health of California Youth
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the Attorneys General of 38 other states today announced BP Amoco has agreed to voluntarily implement new policies and business practices to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors.
"Many companies talk about how they want to reduce sales to minors," said Lockyer. "By entering this agreement with the top law enforcement officials in states across the nation, BP Amoco has backed up its words with deeds, and demonstrated its commitment to protect the health of its young customers."
The BP Amoco "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" is the third such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Earlier this year, state attorneys general reached agreements with Walgreens and ExxonMobil. The enforcement program focuses on retailers who have high rates of sales to minors. The goal is to secure their agreement to adopt policies to prevent sales to underage youth.
At all retail outlets owned and operated by BP Amoco -- one of the nation's largest oil companies -- the agreement requires the company to:
Prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes, and the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products.
Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.
Check the identification of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under age 35.
Hire an independent entity to conduct annual, random compliance checks of 50 percent of its owned and operated outlets.
Transition to cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on tobacco sales.
Train employees on state laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors.
The agreement does not apply directly to BP Amoco outlets that are owned or operated by independent third parties. However, several provisions are designed to encourage such outlets to comply with state laws governing sales to minors.
For example, BP Amoco must notify franchisees and other third-party owners that violation of state laws could constitute grounds for termination of their right to operate the outlet under the BP or Amoco brand name. Additionally, BP Amoco, in future contracts with franchisees and other third-party owners, must require compliance with state laws and specify that non-compliance constitutes grounds for termination or non-renewal of the contract. BP Amoco also must offer third-party owner/operators the opportunity to participate in the annual compliance inspection program.
The attorneys general have long recognized that underage access to tobacco products is an ongoing public health problem. Studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Research indicates that every day in the United States more than 2,000 people under the age of 18 begin smoking and that one-third of them will day die from a tobacco-related disease. Particularly relevant to the BP Amoco agreement, studies show that 47 percent of youth under the age 18 who report buying cigarettes identify gas stations as their primary point of purchase.
In 1999, Lockyer established a full-time Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section to enforce California laws regarding the sale and marketing of tobacco products. The section also enforces the national Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), reached with tobacco companies in November 1998. Californians who suspect violations of state tobacco laws or the MSA can file complaints by calling (916) 565-6486 at any time, or by writing to the Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section at P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Additional information is available on the Attorney General's Website at http://www.ag.ca.gov/tobacco/.