41 States & Guam Sign Agreement with One of Nation's Largest Grocery Chains
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of a settlement agreement with Kroger Company, one of the nation's largest chains of grocery stores, to curb tobacco sales to minors. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) filed today in Marion County Circuit Court is Kroger Company of Ohio. The AVC admits no law violation.
Kroger has 2,468 supermarkets in 31 states under two dozen store names and 779 convenience stores in 15 states under five store names. All but 92 of the convenience stores are company-owned. Statistics ending in 2006 listed 55 Kroger stores in Oregon operating under the names of Fred Meyer and QFC.
"It is a public health victory every day we keep a child from smoking," Myers said. "With this agreement, Kroger joins the growing list of retailers who have demonstrated their commitment to keeping our kids healthy in Oregon and across the country."
The Kroger AVC is the eleventh such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Oregon was part of all the previous agreements covering all 7-Eleven, CVS, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Rite Aid stores, and all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Conoco, Phillips 66, 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, ARCO and Chevron brand names. Combined, the agreements cover over 80,000 retail outlets across the nation.
Launched in 2000, the multi-state enforcement effort by the Attorneys General seeks to secure national retailers' agreement to take specific corrective actions to prevent sales of tobacco products to minors. State laws prohibit such sales. The agreements incorporate "best practices," developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials, to reduce sales to minors.
The agreement announced today requires Kroger to implement comprehensive youth prevention tobacco retailing practices in its company-owned stores. Kroger also will take a number of steps to prevent youth access to tobacco in its franchise outlets, including providing annual notices of the importance of complying with youth access laws, requiring franchisees to report violations to the corporate office, and modifying franchise agreements to provide that violations of youth access laws could constitute grounds for termination or non-renewal of the franchise agreement.
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.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org