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For Immediate Release
September 8, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO CURB TOBACCO SALES TO MINORS IN RITE AID STORES

Maryland Attorney General J.Joseph Curran, Jr. and the Attorneys General of 19 other states and the District of Columbia today announced an agreement with Rite Aid to implement new policies and business practices to reduce the sale of tobacco products to minors in Rite Aid stores throughout the nation, including the 138 Rite Aid stores in Maryland.

“I appreciate what Rite Aid is doing,” said Curran. “By entering into this agreement with top law enforcement officials, Rite Aid is backing up its words with action and demonstrating its commitment to protect the health of its young customers.”

The Rite Aid “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” is the most recent agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. The enforcement effort, focusing on retailers that have high rates of sales to minors, seeks to secure agreement to adopt procedures to prevent sales to underage youth. State Attorneys General have also reached agreements that apply to all Walgreens and Wal-Mart stores and to all gas stations operating under the Exxon, Mobil, ARCO, BP, and Amoco brand names in their states.

The agreement requires Rite Aid 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 tobacco sales.
• Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of over 10% of all Rite Aid stores in the participating states every six months.
• Prohibit self-service displays of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, the sale of cigarette look-alike products, and the distribution of free samples on store property.
• Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.

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.

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