TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney Genera…

TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that ConocoPhillips Company, one of the nation?s largest oil companies, has reached an agreement with Florida and 39 other states to discourage
underage tobacco sales at approximately 10,000 gas stations and convenience
stores around the country. The policy changes will be implemented at stores
operating under the Conoco, 76 and Phillips 66 names.

According to Crist, about 9,670 of the outlets affected by this
agreement throughout the nation are independently-owned businesses with
contracts that allow them to operate under the ConocoPhillips name. Under
the agreement with the attorneys general, ConocoPhillips has agreed to
include provisions in those contracts expressly requiring compliance with
legal prohibitions against tobacco sales to minors. There are currently 76
outlets in Florida covered by the agreement.

?Few things are more important than enforcing regulations designed to
protect our children from the hazards of tobacco use,? Crist said,
?Government cannot reduce youth smoking by itself, and this agreement with
ConocoPhillips will play an important role in the effort.?

When agreements with independently owned stores are initiated or
renewed, ConocoPhillips will require store management to notify the company
of any underage tobacco sales infractions that occur. Violations can
jeopardize a store?s right to operate under company trademarks. The company
has also agreed to write annually to each store to remind them of the
importance of preventing tobacco sales to minors and the fact that failure
to comply with underage tobacco sales laws could constitute grounds for
ending their right to operate under the ConocoPhillips trademarks.

In addition to spelling out the requirements for the independently
owned and operated retail outlets, the agreement contains a series of
policies and procedures that will be fully implemented at stores directly
owned and operated by ConocoPhillips. These procedures will be designed to
serve as a model set of safeguards for the independent outlets.

Among the changes to be implemented at ConocoPhillips? company-owned
outlets are:

– changes in training and hiring of personnel
– age verification efforts and compliance with laws restricting sales
to minors
– a prohibition on vending machines for cigarette sales
– restriction of tobacco sales to one area of the store
– an age limitation on the sale of smoking paraphernalia
– various advertising restrictions.

The agreement notes that 47 percent of youth who report buying
cigarettes identify gas stations as their primary point of purchase, and
another 27 percent identify convenience stores ? meaning that approximately
three-fourths of all cigarette sales to youth take place at the kind of
stores affected by this agreement. The agreement also says that every day
in the United States more than 2,000 people under the age of 18 begin
smoking and that one-third of them will one day die from a tobacco-related
disease.

The other 39 participating states are Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Crist and the other state attorneys general have previously reached
agreements with several other major companies to limit tobacco sales,
including all Wal-Mart and Walgreens stores and all gas stations and
convenience stores operating under the Exxon, 7-Eleven and BP brand names.
Combined, the agreements provide measures to reduce sales of tobacco
products to minors by the nation?s top retail chain (Wal-Mart), number one
drug store chain (Walgreens), largest oil company (ExxonMobil) and biggest
retailer of tobacco products (7-Eleven).

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