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Attorney General Brown Forges Agreement with Shell Oil to Curb Tobacco Sales to Minors

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a multi-state agreement with Shell Oil Company to stop young people from purchasing tobacco products at its convenience stores.

“I commend Shell for joining the growing list of companies that are demonstrating their commitment to prevent illegal access to tobacco,” Attorney General Brown said. “Smoking remains a serious public-health problem in our country, and we need to do everything possible to keep young people from picking up the habit.”

Attorneys General throughout the country won this agreement after a nationwide investigation of tobacco selling practices at convenience stores affiliated with Shell.

The agreement includes the following provisions:

• Retail personnel will receive training about the health risks associated with childhood tobacco use.
• Shell will administer independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices at certain Shell convenience stores, to ensure they are not selling tobacco to minors.
• States will impose sanctions against contract operators that sell tobacco to minors.
• Vending machines and self-service displays that sell tobacco products will be forbidden at Shell-associated convenience stores.
• In-store tobacco advertisements will be limited to reduce youth demand for tobacco products.
• Shell will require all convenience store operators to notify the company if tobacco products are sold to minors in violation of the law.

In the U.S., more than 14,000 gas stations sell Shell gasoline with more than 13,000 of them in states joining this agreement. There are more than 1,200 Shell stations in California, and most stations include convenience stores that sell tobacco products. Although Shell does not directly own or operate the convenience stores at its stations, Shell has agreed to adopt these procedures designed to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors.

Nationwide, 47% of underage youths who reported buying cigarettes said they got them at gas station convenience stores. Studies have linked retail tobacco marketing with underage smoking. In addition, many convenience stores are located near schools and playgrounds.

Recently, there have been other multi-state agreements to curb the sale of tobacco to minors at gas station convenience stores, including Conoco, Phillips 66, 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, ARCO, and Chevron, as well as retail and pharmacy outlets operated by Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Wal-Mart. Grocery stores are also participating, including Ralphs, Safeway, and Vons.

Studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.

In addition to California, the following states have signed on to the agreement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The District of Columbia is also participating.

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