Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed a settlement agreement with the nation's largest drug store chain in which the company will implement new procedures to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed in Marion County Circuit Court is CVS Pharmacy, Inc. of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
"With this agreement, CVS joins the growing list of retailers who have demonstrated their commitment to keeping our kids healthy in Oregon," Myers said. "Every day that we keep an Oregon child from smoking is a public health victory for all of us."
Myers added that CVS pharmacies currently operating in Oregon do not sell tobacco products but that the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed today applies to any future stores CVS may open in the state that sell tobacco products.
On March 14, the Federal Trade Commission approved a $9.7 billion sale of Albertson's Inc., the nation's largest grocery store chain, to a consortium led by Minnesota-based grocer Supervalu Inc., and CVS. Sav-On and Osco drugstores, now owned by Albertsons, that sell tobacco products will be covered by the agreement.
The CVS assurance is the eighth such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Myers was joined by Attorneys General in 42 other states and the District of Columbia. Previous agreements cover all 7-Eleven, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Rite Aid stores, and all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Conoco, Phillips 66 or 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco and ARCO brand names, in the signing states. Combined, the agreements cover more than 60,000 retail outlets across the nation.
Launched in 2000, the multi-state enforcement effort by the group of 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 agreement announced today requires that CVS do the following at all of its retail stores that sell tobacco products:
Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under the age of 27, and accept only valid government-issued photo ID as proof of age.
Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the 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 of 1,361 CVS stores annually in the signing states.
Limit tobacco signage to brand names, logos, other trademarks, and pricing, and ensure that all tobacco advertising inside the store is confined to the area where tobacco products are sold.
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.
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.
Consumers wanting information about the Department of Justice consumer protection program in Oregon may contact 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