September 30, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO CURB TOBACCO SALES TO MINORS IN WAL-MART
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer
Protection Division and the offices of 42 other attorneys general
have entered into an agreement with Wal-Mart under which the giant
retailer will implement new policies and procedures to reduce tobacco
sales to minors in Wal-mart stores throughout the nation, including
51 Wal-Mart and SAM'S CLUB stores in Maryland. Attorney General
Curran led this 43-state effort along with the attorneys general
of California, Iowa and New York.
"This agreement with top state law enforcement officials expresses
a commitment by Wal-Mart to better protect the health of its young
customers," Curran said.
The Wal-Mart "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" is the
most recent agreement produced by an ongoing, multistate enforcement
effort. Curran and other attorneys general previously reached agreements
that apply to Walgreens stores and to gas stations and convenience
stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, and ARCO brand
names in their states.
The enforcement effort focuses on retailers that have high rates
of tobacco sales to minors. The goal is to secure their agreement
to adopt policies and practices to prevent youth access to cigarettes
and other tobacco products.
agreement requires Wal-Mart to do the following:
Train employees to prevent tobacco sales to minors.
Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when
the person appears to be under age 27, and only accept currently
valid government-issued photo identification as proof of age.
Use cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on all
Evaluate cashiers' compliance with ID check requirements
Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks
of approximately 10% of all Wal-mart stores every six months.
Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the use
of vending machines to sell tobacco products, and the distribution
of free samples on store property.
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 sale of tobacco to minors.
Wal-Mart also agreed to pay $437,500 to the states, of which Maryland
will receive more than $48,000.
The attorneys general have long recognized that youth access to
tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems.
Studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers began 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 begin smoking
and that one-third of those persons 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.