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Attorney General William H. Sorrell Announces Agreement With Shell Oil To Curb Tobacco Sales To Minors

CONTACT: Christy Taylor Mihaly, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-4608

47 Attorneys General Sign Agreement With Shell, Covering about 13,000 retail outlets

October 8, 2008 - Minors who buy cigarettes illegally often make their purchases at gasoline station convenience stores. In an effort to curb such sales, Shell Oil Products US and its joint venture Motiva Enterprises have agreed to implement procedures to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors at convenience stores located at Shell stations. Attorney General William H. Sorrell today announced that he has joined the Attorneys General of 45 other states and the District of Columbia in signing an agreement with Shell and Motiva. The agreement covers more than 13,000 Shell gasoline stations in the U.S, of which 67 are in Vermont.

Vermont law prohibits tobacco sales to minors. "By requiring compliance with the law and limiting kids’ access to cigarettes, we help stop kids from smoking. For every child who doesn’t become a smoker, that’s a health victory, for the child and for the state," Attorney General Sorrell said. Noting that Shell entered into the agreement even though the company does not directly own or operate convenience stores, the Attorney General said that "Shell joins the growing list of companies demonstrating their commitment to lead efforts against youth access to tobacco, in Vermont and nationwide." In a recent survey, 47 percent of underage youths who reported buying cigarettes said they did so at gasoline station convenience stores.

The Shell "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" (AVC) was produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement 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. This AVC follows a 1998 agreement that Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts negotiated separately with Shell, and requires updated measures including comprehensive training of retail personnel with regard to prohibitions on tobacco sales to minors, and independent compliance checks at convenience stores, to monitor sales practices – with a greater number of checks to be performed in Vermont and the other two states on the 1998 agreement. Shell also agreed to pay the states $100,000 for their costs in pursuing this matter. Vermont will receive about $7,000 in recognition of its commitment of resources to this initiative.

Studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and that young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes. Other multi-state AVCs relating to tobacco sales to minors, in which Vermont has participated, cover gas station convenience stores selling fuel under the Conoco, Phillips 66 or 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, and Amoco brand names, and retail and pharmacy chains Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS.

Attorney General Sorrell has been a leader in the fight against tobacco, and was recently recognized by the American Legacy Foundation, a national public health organization dedicated to reducing tobacco use. The Foundation announced this summer that it was endowing a William H. Sorrell Lecture Series on Tobacco Policy and Enforcement

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.