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Calls Drug Store Chain's Policy a National Model in Fight Against Underage Smoking
(SACRAMENTO ) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the Attorneys General of 39 other states today announced that Walgreens has agreed to implement major new policies to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors.
"While many retailers express their desire to reduce underage sales, Walgreens has demonstrated its commitment by taking important steps to ensure that 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. "Walgreens should be commended for providing a national model for 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 Walgreens, one of the country's largest drug store chains, on how to best address the problem of youths obtaining tobacco products. Under the "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance," Walgreens has agreed to standards for the hiring, employment and training of Walgreens' employees regarding the sale of tobacco products.
Walgreens will instruct its clerks to check identification of all customers who appear to be under the age of 27. The store will prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, the sale of cigarette papers or pipes to minors and the distribution of free tobacco-product samples on store property. Walgreens also will restrict in-store advertising of tobacco products.
In addition, the store will continue using cash registers that require clerks to enter information from customers' photo identification for the sale of tobacco products. The company also will begin using 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 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 also 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.
In 1999, Lockyer established a full-time Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section to enforce state 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 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/