Banner: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
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For Immediate Release
December 19, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH
BP AMOCO TO CURB TOBACCO SALES TO MINORS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that BP Amoco, one of the nation’s largest oil companies, has agreed to adopt policies to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors at its gas stations. Maryland was one of 39 states to enter into the accord with BP Products North America, Inc., a wholly-owned marketing subsidiary of BP America, Inc., which is commonly known as BP Amoco.

"The great majority of smokers become addicted in their mid or early teens, and the earlier a person becomes hooked the harder it is to quit and the more likely that person is to suffer a tobacco-related disease,"Attorney General Curran said. "Blocking youth access to tobacco can help break these patterns of addiction and disease."

Curran noted that this is the third multi-state agreement with a nationwide tobacco retailer. Similar agreements were reached earlier this year with Walgreens and ExxonMobil. Combined, the agreements affect more than 33,000 retail outlets across the nation.

In addition to agreeing to standards in its company-operated stores for the hiring, employment, training, and monitoring of its employees regarding the sale of tobacco products, BP Amoco will also attempt to ensure that the approximately 12,000 stations displaying the BP Amoco names but not operated by BP Products comply with laws governing the sale of tobacco to minors. All future franchise agreements will require these stations to prevent underage tobacco sales, and failure to do so will be considered grounds for terminating the franchise. There are more than 241 BP or Amoco franchise stations in Maryland.

The Attorneys General have long recognized that underage access to tobacco products is an ongoing problem. Studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 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. Research indicates that almost half of youth under the age of 18 who report buying cigarettes identify gas stations as their primary point of purchase. 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 continuation of the Attorney General's Program to Reduce Youth Access to Tobacco, as his Office works with other government agencies to develop a comprehensive enforcement effort to stop the sale of tobacco products to underage buyers, and with tobacco retailers who want to adopt policies and practices designed to reduce youth sales. Curran's office recently distributed his Tobacco Retailers Guide; Reducing Youth Access to Tobacco Products to Maryland's 7,000 tobacco retailers. The Guide sets forth the law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 years of age and details the criminal penalties–from $300 to $3,000 per violation–for selling cigarettes to minors. Any retailer selling tobacco products to minors could be subject to civil and criminal sanctions depending upon where the violation occurs.

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