Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced an agreement with nationwide retailer Rite Aid to implement new policies and business practices to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors in its stores throughout the nation, including the 70 Rite Aid stores in Oregon.
"Young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes," Myers said. "Rite Aids willingness to work with all 52 Attorneys General and the District of Columbia to further prevent sales to underage youth is commendable."
The Rite Aid Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is the most recent agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. The enforcement effort, focusing on retailers that have high rates of sales to minors, seeks to secure agreement to adopt procedures to prevent sales to underage youth. State Attorneys General have also reached agreements that apply to all Walgreens and Wal-Mart stores and to all gas stations operating under the Exxon, Mobil, ARCO, BP, and Amoco brand names in their states.
The agreement requires Rite Aid 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 ID 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 ID checks on all tobacco sales.
Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of over 10% of all Rite Aid stores in the participating states every six months.
Prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, the sale of cigarette look-alike products, and the distribution of free samples on store property.
Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.
The Attorneys General have 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.
The 2001 Oregon Legislature created the Tobacco Tax Compliance Task Force to enforce Oregon laws regarding the sale and marketing of tobacco products and ensure that all taxes on tobacco products are paid. Members of the Task Force are the Oregon Department of Revenue, the Oregon State Police, and the Oregon Department of Justice. Justice also enforces the national Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), reached with tobacco companies in 1998.
Oregonians, who suspect violations of Oregon's tobacco laws or the MSA, may call the Task Force tip-line at (503) 947-2106 or toll-free at (866) 840-2740. Messages on the tip-line are checked daily. Callers should leave specifics about their concerns as that information will determine who will handle the inquiry.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) email@example.com