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Calls Agreement Important Model for Retailers in Fight Against Underage Smoking
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the chief law enforcement officers of 42 other states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories today announced that Exxon Mobil Corp. (ExxonMobil) has voluntarily agreed to implement major new policies to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors.
"While many companies express their desire to reduce underage sales, ExxonMobil has demonstrated its commitment by taking important steps to ensure that its clerks are properly trained, I.D's are checked, self-service displays of tobacco products are eliminated and all tobacco sales are monitored,' Lockyer said. 'This agreement will provide a model for gas stations, convenience stores and other retailers across the country who are concerned about the health of their young customers.'
The agreement is the result of ongoing discussions between the attorneys general and ExxonMobil, the nation's largest oil company, on how to best address the problem of youths obtaining tobacco products at gas stations and convenience stores bearing the Exxon or Mobil brand names.
Under the agreement, ExxonMobil will adopt standards for the hiring, employment and training of its employees regarding the sale of tobacco products. ExxonMobil will instruct its clerks to check identification of all customers who appear to be under the age of 27, and use its security video-taping system to monitor compliance. The company also will prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products, the sale of cigarette papers or pipes to minors and the distribution of free tobacco-product samples at its stores, which number more than 1,000 nationwide.
In addition, ExxonMobil will use an outside firm to conduct random, anonymous performance checks, as well as internal monitors to ensure employees are following the standards and not selling tobacco products to minors. The company also will make good-faith efforts to ensure that the 16,000 gas stations displaying the Exxon or Mobil names, but not operated by ExxonMobil Corp., comply with laws governing the sale of tobacco to minors. These franchisees will commit in writing to prevent underage tobacco sales on their premises and inform ExxonMobil if they receive any notices of violation from law enforcement authorities for making such sales.
The agreement is similar to one that Lockyer and the attorneys general of 39 other states reached earlier this year with Walgreens, one of the country's largest drug store chains.
The attorneys general have long recognized that underage access to tobacco products is an ongoing 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 one day die from a tobacco-related disease. Research also indicates that 47 percent of youth under the age of 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 and the national Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), which was reached with tobacco companies in November 1998. Californians who suspect violations of state tobacco laws or the MSA may file complaints by calling (916) 565-6486 at anytime, 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/