Major Deal Over Minors

Chevron agrees to implement new procedures to better ensure tobacco products not being sold to underage buyers

SAN RAMON, Calif. -- Chevron Products Co. has reached an agreement with the attorneys general of 26 states and the District of Columbia to reduce the sale of cigarettes to minors in the company's convenience stores.

Under the terms of the national "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" (AVC) agreement, Chevron will implement a number of new procedures to better ensure that tobacco products are not being sold to consumers under 18 years of age in all of its 9,100 retail outlets.

Chevron deserves credit for taking this step to address [image-nocss] a critical public health problem, said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

The Chevron AVC is the 10th such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. As reported in CSP Daily News, previous agreements cover, in the signing states, all Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS Pharmacy and 7-Eleven stores. Those AVCs also cover gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, ARCO, Amoco, Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 brand names. The AVCs provide measures to reduce sales of tobacco products to minors by the nation's top retail chain (Wal-Mart), No. 1 drug store chain (Walgreens), largest oil company (ExxonMobil), biggest retailer of tobacco products (7-Eleven) and largest retail pharmacy (CVS).

Launched in 2000, the multi-state enforcement effort by a group of 34 AGs focuses on retailers that they claimed have poor records of selling tobacco products to minors. The enforcement program's goal is to secure the companies' agreement to take specific corrective actions. The agreements incorporate best practices to reduce sales to minors, developed by the AGs in consultation with researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials.

The AVC limits in-store advertising of tobacco products to brand names, logos, trademarks and pricing. Such advertising cannot be placed near candy, toys or other products purchased by, or for, children. Additionally, the agreement bans self-service displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Under the terms of the agreement, Chevron will implement the following youth prevention tobacco retailing practices at each of its company-owned stores:

Ensure that all employees selling tobacco are at least 18 years of age and be required to disclose previous history of underage tobacco sale violations.Train all employees on the procedures to prohibit sales of tobacco to minors. Warn employees that they may face possible termination of their jobs if they violate the laws regarding the sale of tobacco to minors. Program cash registers to prompt employees to request identification for the sale of tobacco products. Registers will also be locked after tobacco products are scanned as a reminder to request ID. Post signs at the front door and at the register that warn consumers "WE CARD under 30," or "WE ID under 30." Monitor and report all violations to Chevron's youth access designee at each store. Arrange for an independent entity to conduct a compliance check at least once every six months. Set up security cameras that will continuously record all sales transactions. Personnel will be required to periodically examine tapes for compliance. Notices will also be posted informing customers that security cameras will be used to detect underage attempts to purchase tobacco products. Display all tobacco products in a secured area that can only be accessed by store employees upon request. Eliminate the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products. Eliminate the distribution of free tobacco products and the sales of single cigarettes or other modes of cigarette sales in groups of 20 known as "kiddie packs." Pay $175,000 to the states for costs of investigation or other public protection purposes.

The agreement with Chevron will also take a number of steps to prevent youth access to tobacco at its franchise outlets in the signing states, including providing annual notices of the importance of complying with the youth access laws; requiring franchises to report violations to the corporate office; and modifying franchise agreements to include language that states violations of youth access laws may constitute grounds for termination or nonrenewal of the franchise agreement.

Along with the District of Columbia, the states affected by the agreement include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Click here to view the full text of the AVC.

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