AGs, 7-Eleven Settle Over Youth Tobacco Sales

August 11, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe and the Attorneys General of 39 other states and the District of Columbia today announced an agreement under which 7-Eleven will implement new policies and procedures to reduce tobacco sales to minors in 7-Eleven stores throughout the nation, including all 11 stores licensed by 7-Eleven and 2 company-owned stores in Maine.

The 7-Eleven "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" is the most recent agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Rowe and other attorneys general previously reached agreements that apply to all Walgreens stores, Rite Aid pharmacies, Wal Mart stores and to all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, and ARCO brand names in their states.

The enforcement effort focuses on retailers that have high rates of tobacco sales to minors. The goal is to secure their agreement to adopt policies and practices to prevent youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Enforcement inspections have found that while 7-Eleven stores in Maine have a better non-compliance rate than in other states, there is room for improvement. One reason 7-Eleven's Maine locations may perform better is the company's adoption of the State's "No BUTS: Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales" responsible tobacco retailing program. No BUTS requires stores to adopt many of the provisions included in the Assurance and provides compliance credit when stores demonstrate implementation and a record of not selling to minors.

The agreement requires 7-Eleven to:

  • Train employees on state and local laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors, including explaining the health-related reasons for laws that restrict youth access to tobacco;
  • Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under age 27, and only accept currently valid government-issued photo identification as proof of age;
  • Use cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on all tobacco sales;
  • Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of 450 7-Eleven stores every six months;
  • Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, and the distribution of free samples on store property;
  • Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors;
  • Refrain from selling candy and other products that are tobacco look-a-likes; and
  • Limit interior advertising directed at youth and adhere to exterior advertising limitations included in the AG's Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies.

The attorneys general will monitor 7-Eleven's compliance with the agreement and have reserved the right to enforce future violations of the agreement as well as the laws governing sale of tobacco to minors.

The attorneys general have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. Studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Research indicates that every day in the United States, more than 2,000 people under the age of 18 begin smoking and that one-third of those persons will one day die from a tobacco-related disease. Young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.