Attorney General Hardy Myers 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. An Assurance was filed earlier today by the Department of Justice in Marion County Circuit Court.
"This agreement is a critical step forward in the effort to curb tobacco sales to underage Oregonians," Myers said. "ExxonMobil's new policy, which includes enhanced employee training, elimination of self-service tobacco displays and corporate monitoring of franchisees, is a model to which all responsible retailers should aspire."
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 Myers 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 a severe and 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 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.
Attorney General Myers seeks to enforce state laws involving tobacco and the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies. Myers has established a tobacco enforcement unit and consumers and businesses can report suspected violations of the Master Settlement Agreement or state laws governing the sale of tobacco products by calling the consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll free at 1-877-877-9392.
Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002