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Attorneys General Reach Agreement with Kroger Co. to Stop Tobacco Sales to Children

October 24, 2007

National grocery store chain to implement in-store measures to prevent children from buying tobacco products

Forty-three Attorneys General reached an agreement with Kroger Co. to stop the sale of tobacco products to children in its stores. Kroger is the nation’s largest grocery store chain with 2,468 supermarkets in 31 states.

Kroger agreed to rigorous measures to prevent tobacco sales to minors at its stores, including strengthening employee training on store policies for avoiding sales to youths and conducting unannounced internal compliance checks.

Kroger has agreed to install a cutting edge electronic age verification system. Cash registers will require clerks to enter information from a customer’s photo identification for the sale of tobacco products to persons who appear to be under age 27. Among the system’s benefits is its ability to disable a cash register when the sale of a tobacco product is recorded. This will ensure the clerk has the opportunity and takes the time to verify the purchaser’s age. The company must also post conspicuous notices reading “We Card Under 30.”

The settlement also prohibits Kroger from displaying self-serve kiosks, vending machines, free samples and cigarette look-alike products. To ensure compliance with this agreement, Kroger will hire an independent firm that will employ undercover minors who will arrive at stores unannounced and attempt to purchase tobacco products. When and if a minor successfully purchases tobacco, store managers must take steps to correct these errors. Kroger also will take action to ensure compliance at its franchise outlets.

Attorneys General have secured similar agreements with several other major retailers, including: 7-Eleven, CVS, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Rite Aid stores, and all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Conoco, Phillips 66, Exxon, 76, Mobil, BP, Amoco, ARCO and Chevron brand names. Combined, the agreements cover more than 80,000 retail outlets across the nation.

Attorneys General have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the nation’s most serious public health problems. More than 400,000 Americans die each year from diseases caused by tobacco use and studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18. Research also 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. In addition, studies show that the earlier in life a person begins smoking, the more difficult it is for him or her to quit later in life.

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