PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: September 30, 2003
ATTORNEY GENERAL BRADY
ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO CURB
TOBACCO SALES TO MINORS IN WAL-MART STORES
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General M. Jane Brady joins Attorneys General from 42 states in announcing today an agreement under which Wal-Mart, the nation=s largest retailer and employer, will implement new policies and procedures to reduce tobacco sales to minors in the 3,400 Wal-Mart stores throughout the nation.
Attorney General Brady said, “I congratulate Wal-Mart for its commitment to ensure that clerks are properly trained, I.D=s are checked, self-service displays of tobacco products are eliminated, and all tobacco sales are monitored,” Brady said. “This Agreement provides a model for other retailers across the country who are concerned about the health of their young customers.”
The agreement requires Wal-Mart to train its employees on laws and policies restricting tobacco sales to minors, including the health-related reasons for such restrictions; check identification of any person purchasing tobacco products who appears to be under age 27, and accept only a valid government-issued photo ID as proof of age; hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of Wal-Mart stores; prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, vending machines to sell those products, and distribution of free samples on store property; and 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 the sale of tobacco to minors.
The New York, Maryland, Iowa, and California Attorney General offices were the lead negotiators in reaching an agreement with Wal-Mart. This agreement, or Aassurance of Voluntary Compliance,@ is the latest product of an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort, begun in 2000 when a group of Attorney General offices joined together to form the Attorney General Tobacco Retailing Group to address high rates of sale of tobacco products to minors by national retailers.
After reviewing data on sales to minors, the Group identified a number of retailers with both a large national presence and high rates of such sales. The Group also formulated Abest practices@ for responsible retailing of tobacco products, based on consultations with researchers, the Centers for Disease Control, and state tobacco control staff who monitor retail sales of tobacco to minors. The Group=s goal has been to work with offending retailers to reach Assurances of Voluntary Compliance, embodying the adoption of specific tobacco retailing policies and practices that would result in decreased sales to minors.
In August of last year, Delaware signed on to the agreement reached by the Group with ExxonMobil, the nation’s largest oil company.
The Attorneys General have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems facing the country. According to studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Centers for Disease Control, more than 80 percent of current adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and every day in the United States more than 2,000 people under the age of 18 begin smoking, one-third of whom 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.
The states participating in the Wal-Mart agreement are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.