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Attorney General Announces Agreement To Prevent Tobacco Sales To Minors At Valero Gas Stations

CONTACT: Helen Wagner, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-2508

April 7, 2010

Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that gasoline-retailer Valero, one of the nation’s largest gas station chains, has agreed to a set of measures aimed at reducing tobacco sales to kids at more than 4,900 gas station convenience stores nationwide, including five in Vermont, under the brands of Valero, Beacon, Diamond, Shamrock, Ultramar, Corner Store and Stop N Go. Valero Holdings, Inc. and Valero Marketing and Supply Company agreed to change business practices and to pay 39 states a total of $100,000. Vermont’s share has not yet been determined.

It is illegal to sell tobacco to minors. Yet, in a recent survey, 47 percent of underage youth who reported buying cigarettes said they did so at gasoline station convenience stores. The agreement with Valero notes the fact that more than 80% of regular adult smokers began smoking as children and that 2,000 children begin smoking cigarettes every day in the United States – and one-third of them will die one day from tobacco-related disease. “By requiring compliance with the law, we help kids avoid smoking. For every child who doesn’t start smoking, that’s a public health victory, for the child and for the state,” Attorney General Sorrell said. Sorrell has been a national leader in the fight against tobacco. He has served on the board of the American Legacy Foundation, a national public health organization dedicated to reducing tobacco use, in particular by young people.

Valero joins the growing list of companies demonstrating their commitment to reducing youth access to tobacco, in Vermont and nationwide. The Valero agreement is the result of an ongoing multistate effort among the Attorneys General and incorporates “best practices” developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with public health researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials. Under the agreement, Valero at its own stations will instruct clerks to check I.D. for all tobacco customers who appear to be under age 27, use security videotapes to monitor compliance by clerks, perform random compliance checks involving youthful tobacco purchasers, and implement many other safeguards. Additionally, Valero has agreed to change its franchise contracts to require franchisees to report to Valero when they receive a notice that an employee has made a tobacco sale to a minor, and illegal sales could result in the loss of the franchise. Vermont has similar agreements relating to tobacco sales to minors with gas station convenience stores selling fuel under the Conoco, Phillips 66 or 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, Shell, and Amoco brand names, and retail and pharmacy chains Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS.

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