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LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a multi-state agreement with Valero Oil to stop young people from purchasing tobacco products at its convenience stores.
“For years gas station convenience stores have served as an illegal provider for underage smokers. Today, Valero has finally joined the growing list of companies that have made a 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.”
Every day, some 2,000 children begin smoking in this country. One-third of them will die of tobacco-related diseases. Nearly half of underage smokers said they bought their cigarettes at gas station convenience stores.
Attorneys General throughout the country reached this agreement after a nationwide investigation, led by Brown’s office, of tobacco selling practices at convenience stores owned by or affiliated with Valero.
The agreement includes the following provisions:
• Valero retail personnel will receive training about the health risks associated with childhood tobacco use.
• Valero will administer independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices at company-owned convenience stores, to ensure they are not selling tobacco to minors.
• Vending machines, free samples, and self-service displays of tobacco products will be prohibited at company-owned stores.
• In-store tobacco advertisements will be limited to reduce youth demand for tobacco products.
• Valero will require all of its convenience store operators to notify the company if tobacco products are sold to minors in violation of state law.
• The states will continue to impose sanctions against stores that sell tobacco to minors.
There are over 900 Valero stations in California. Although Valero does not directly own or operate the convenience stores at many of those stations, it has agreed to adopt procedures designed to reduce tobacco sales to minors at all of its outlets.
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. Studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18.
Recently, other multi-state agreements have been inked to curb the sale of tobacco to minors at gas station convenience stores, including Conoco, Phillips 66, 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, ARCO, Chevron, and Shell, as well as retail and pharmacy outlets operated by Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Wal-Mart. Participating grocery stores include Ralphs, Safeway, and Vons.
A copy of the agreement is attached.