Oil Firm Agrees To Help Reduce Tobacco Products Sales to Oregon Youth
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced an agreement with international oil firm ConocoPhillips, in which the company will adopt new procedures and contractual requirements to reduce sales of tobacco products to Oregon minors at 22 company-owned/operated sites and 180 franchise outlets located in the state. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, which admits no law violation, was filed in Marion County Circuit Court.
"ConocoPhillips recognized its responsibility and took this important step to become part of the solution rather than the problem," Myers said. "The list of companies that preceded ConocoPhillips is impressive and all should be acknowledged for their cooperation." Others signing similar agreements include Walgreens, ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, Wal-Mart, ARCO, Rite-Aid and 7-Eleven.
Today's agreement was signed by Myers and the Attorneys General of 39 other states. It applies to the 10,463 outlets that operate under the Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 brand names. The Attorneys General of three states that currently do not have ConocoPhillips outlets also signed the agreement pending ConocoPhillips opening stores in those jurisdictions.
The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) is the eighth such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. The AVCs provide measures to reduce sales of tobacco products to minors by the nation's top retail chain (Wal-Mart), number one drug store chain (Walgreens), largest oil company (ExxonMobil) and biggest retailer of tobacco products (7-Eleven).
Launched in 2000, the multi-state enforcement effort by a group of 32 Attorneys General focuses on retailers with poor records of selling tobacco products to minors. State laws prohibit such sales. 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 Attorneys General in consultation with researchers, and state and federal tobacco control officials.
The retailing reforms of the ConocoPhillips AVC explicitly apply to company-owned stores. The agreement, however, also calls for ConocoPhillips to take steps to ensure its franchisees comply with state laws governing the sale of tobacco products. For example, ConocoPhillips will revise its franchise contracts to specify that tobacco-product sales to minors can result in loss of the franchise.
The agreement limits in-store advertising of tobacco products to brand names, logos, other trademarks and pricing. Additionally, the agreement bans self-service displays of cigarettes and all other tobacco products. Aside from the advertising and self-service restrictions, the AVC also requires ConocoPhillips to:
Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under the age of 35, and accept as proof of age only valid government-issued photo ID.
Prohibit the following: use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, distribution of free samples, sale of cigarette look-alike products and the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.
Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks twice each year at all company-owned stores in the signing states.
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.
The Attorneys General have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. Studies show more than 80 percent of adult smokers begin 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 start smoking and that one-third of those persons ultimately will 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.
Myers, through 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.
Suspected violations of state tobacco laws or the MSA may be reported by calling the Task Force tip-line at (503) 947-2106 or toll-free at (866) 840-2740. Tip-line messages are checked daily and callers should leave specifics about their concerns.
Oregonians wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org