WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia announced an agreement on Tuesday with two convenience store companies to prevent the sale of tobacco to children and teens.
Circle K Stores Inc., and Mac's Convenience Stores LLC, will impose compliance checks and increase training for the companies' 4,000 convenience stores nationwide under terms of the agreement.
"Many adult smokers start their habit at an early age," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. "By preventing teens' access to cigarettes, we're working to deter them from picking up this deadly habit."
Circle K, On the Run and Dairymart stores will now comprehensively train retail personnel and conduct independent compliance checks to monitor sales.
The agreement is part of a multistate enforcement effort by the attorneys general that incorporates methods to prevent underage tobacco access developed by the group, tobacco control officials and public health efforts.
Studies showing the majority of adult smokers started before reaching age 18 and that addiction can occur after smoking only a few cigarettes.
Under terms of the agreement with Circle K, personal identification must be checked on all persons who appear to be under 30 years of age to protect against mistakes by clerks in evaluating a person's age by appearance alone. Employee training must be provided focusing on how to eliminate underage tobacco sales that emphasizes the serious health issues that give rise to the legal efforts to restrict youth access to tobacco, and in-store tobacco advertising must be limited in ways intended to reduce the effect on young people. Outdoor advertising must be limited at stores within 500 feet of playgrounds and school
Additionally, Circle K volunteered to pay the attorneys general a total of $225,000 to be used for public protection, consumer education or the implementation of programs protecting against tobacco use by minors. Circle K will also begin testing 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.
"We appreciate Circle K stepping forward to help reduce the number of young Tennesseans buying tobacco products," Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said.