Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Wal-Mart Signs Agreement To Reduce Tobacco Sales To Minors In Its Stores

September 30, 2003

Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance in Marion County Circuit Court against the nation's largest retailer Wal-Mart calling for the company to introduce new policies and procedures to reduce tobacco sales to minors in its stores throughout the nation. In Oregon, the settlement effects all 21 Wal-Mart stores and five super centers.

Myers joined 42 other states in an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort that focuses on retailers that have high rates of tobacco sales to minors. Previously reached agreements apply to all Walgreens stores and to all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, and ARCO brand names.

"Today's agreement with state law enforcement officials expresses a commitment by Wal-Mart to do a better job in protecting the health of its young customers," Myers said. "The states' ultimate goal is to secure agreements from retailers throughout the country to adopt policies and practices to prevent youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products."

The agreement requires Wal-Mart to do the following:

  • Train employees on state and local laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors, including explaining the health-related reasons for laws that restrict youth access to tobacco.
  • Check the identification of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under age 27, and only accept currently valid government-issued photo identification as proof of age.
  • Use cash registers programmed to prompt identification checks on all tobacco sales.
  • Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of approximately 10 percent of all Wal-Mart stores every six months.
  • Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, and the distribution of free samples on store property.
  • Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.

The attorneys general will monitor compliance with the agreement and have reserved the right to enforce future violations of the agreement as well as the laws governing sale of tobacco to minors.

The multi-state law enforcement group has long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. 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 those persons will one day die from a tobacco-related disease. Young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.

Oregonians, who suspect violations of state tobacco laws, can file complaints by calling the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only), toll-free at 1-877-877-9392 or online at www.doj.state.or.us.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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