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Attorney General Announces Agreement With Circle K To Curb Tobacco Sales To Minors

CONTACT: Helen Wagner, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

May 23, 2011

41 Attorneys General Sign Agreement, Covering About 4,000 Circle K Outlets

Attorney General William Sorrell announced today that he has joined the Attorneys General of 41 other jurisdictions (40 states and the District of Columbia) in an agreement with Circle K Stores, Inc. and Mac’s Convenience Stores LLC to enhance efforts to eliminate underage tobacco sales. The agreement, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, covers about 4,000 convenience store operations in 32 states, all of which sell tobacco products. Stores covered by the agreement operate under the names Circle K, Dairymart, and On The Run. There are currently 12 stores in Vermont affected by the agreement.

Under the agreement, Circle K will adopt specific procedures designed to reduce sales and marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors in all of its approximately 3,000 corporate-owned stores, and will adopt various methods designed to curb underage tobacco sales at another 1,000 franchise locations. “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.

The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort among the attorneys general, and incorporates "best practices" developed in consultation with public health experts and tobacco control officials. The agreement with Circle K includes provisions for comprehensive training of retail personnel, independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices, advising contract operators that there will be serious ramifications imposed for underage tobacco sales, and several other protections.

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, Amoco and Valero brand names, and retail and pharmacy chains Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS.

The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance includes the following terms (among others):

  • ID must be checked on all persons who appear to be under 30, to protect against mistakes by clerks in evaluating a person’s age by their appearance alone.
  • In-store advertising of tobacco must be limited in ways intended to reduce the effect on young people, and outdoor advertising is to be eliminated at stores within 500 feet of playgrounds or schools.
  • Employee training will focus on the mechanics of eliminating underage tobacco sales, and will also emphasize the serious health issues that give rise to the legal efforts to restrict youth access to tobacco.
  • Circle K will test itself on the effectiveness of its own safeguards against underage sales by conducting “mystery shopper” compliance checks at 500 of its stores every six months.
  • Circle K voluntarily agreed to pay the attorneys general a total of $225,000 to be used for such purposes as consumer education, public protection, or the implementation of programs protecting against tobacco use by minors.
  •   Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.