DENVER – Attorney General John Suthers today announced an agreement with 7-Eleven, Inc. requiring the nation’s largest seller of tobacco products to implement new procedures to prevent sales to minors at its 229 Colorado stores and 5,702 outlets in 40 other states and Washington, D.C.
"Every day more than 2,000 minors pick up a cigarette for the first time," said Attorney General Suthers. "By entering into this agreement, 7-Eleven demonstrates their commitment to reducing the number of children exposed to cigarettes and other tobacco products."
The 7-Eleven "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" (AVC) is the fourth agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort involving Colorado. Previous agreements cover Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the BP Amoco brand name. These agreements provide measures to reduce sales of tobacco products to minors by the nation’s top retail chain (Wal-Mart), number one drug store chain (Walgreens), and biggest retailer of tobacco products (7-Eleven).
Launched in 2000, the multi-state enforcement effort targets retailers with poor records of tobacco sales to minors. Despite state laws that prohibit sales to minors, undercover inspections indicated that minors were able to buy tobacco products at 7-Eleven stores in several states.
The enforcement program’s goal is to secure the companies’ agreement to take specific corrective actions. The agreements incorporate "best practices," developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials, to prevent tobacco sales to minors.
The agreement, effective immediately, requires that 7-Eleven do the following at all company-owned stores:
Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under the age of 27, and accept only valid government-issued photo ID as proof of age.
- Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, distribution of free samples, sale of cigarette look-alike products, and the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.
- Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of 900 7-Eleven stores annually in the signing states.
- Restrict in-store advertising of tobacco products adjacent to products popular with minors and outdoor and outward-facing advertising within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds.
- Train employees on state and local laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors, including explaining the health-related reasons for laws that restrict youth access to tobacco.
7-Eleven will also take steps to effect compliance by its franchisees with the provisions of the agreement and state laws concerning tobacco products.
Attorney General Suthers has long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. Studies show more than 80 percent of adult smokers begin 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 start smoking and that one-third of those persons ultimately will 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.