NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


February 13, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

WALGREENS JOINS CURRAN'S EFFORTS TO THWART SALE OF CIGARETTES TO MD YOUTH

Continuing with last year's Program to Reduce Youth Access to Tobacco, Attorney General Curran today announced a landmark agreement with national drugstore chain Walgreens designed to reduce youth access to cigarettes in Walgreens' stores. The agreement between Walgreens and 40 state Attorneys General sets forth best practices that the retailer will follow with respect to selling cigarettes.

By the agreement, Walgreens has expressed its commitment to follow specific practices regarding the hiring, training and supervision of employees who may be responsible for selling tobacco products. Walgreens will continue to instruct its employees to request identification from customers who appear to be under 40 years of age, though the agreement only requires such checks of customers appearing to be under 27 years of age. Recognizing the role technology can play in helping staff avoid making youth sales, Walgreens has agreed to continue using cash registers that prompt staff to verify the age of a customer before completing a tobacco sale. Walgreens will also prohibit stores from using self-service tobacco displays and from providing free samples of cigarettes and will restrict in-store tobacco advertising.

The agreement with Walgreens is the first of many the group of Attorneys General hopes to achieve with retailers. "By agreeing to these best practices, Walgreens becomes our partner in reducing youth smoking, a significant public health crisis," Curran said. "We hope that other retailers will follow Walgreens' example and adopt these best practices."

The public health crisis of youth smoking is highlighted by statistics revealing that more than 80% of adult daily smokers began smoking when under age eighteen (18) and that each year 12,800 Maryland youth start a smoking habit. Maryland youth buy or smoke more than 12 million packs of cigarettes each year and, if trends continue, 85,000 Maryland kids alive today will ultimately die from smoking. Cutting off youth access to cigarettes at the retail level is considered one step toward healthier Maryland kids who will become healthy adults.

This announcement reflects the Attorney General's continuation of his Program to Reduce Youth Access to Tobacco that was announced last year, during which he released the results of a youth access operation he conducted and published and distributed with local government cooperation educational materials to approximately 8,000 tobacco retailers.

###