For immediate release - Wednesday, February 13, 2002.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Miller: Walgreens Taking Strong Steps to Block Tobacco
Sales to Children
"Walgreens is setting a good standard for avoiding tobacco sales to kids."
DES MOINES. Attorney General Tom Miller announced Wednesday that Walgreens has agreed to what he called "a
very strong battery of policies and procedures" to reduce the sale of tobacco products to children in Iowa and across the
"This is a very important milestone in the effort to reduce tobacco addiction,
because most people get hooked on tobacco as kids," said Miller. "Walgreens
is setting a good standard for avoiding tobacco sales to minors."
Miller's office is leading a multi-state effort by state attorney general
offices to urge giant retail operations to adopt measures to avoid sales
to minors of cigarettes and other tobacco products, including chewing tobacco
and snuff. Forty states are entering the agreement today with the Walgreen
Company, which is based in Deerfield, Illinois. Iowa also helped lead the
states' team that negotiated the "assurance of voluntary compliance" reached
with Walgreens, one of the nation's largest drug store chains - and the
first company to reach such an agreement in the states' effort.
Walgreens agreed to rigorous measures to avoid tobacco sales to minors,
- Conducting "internal performance checks" by the company and using random, anonymous "external" performance
checks by an independent entity to verify compliance.
- Strengthening employee training on store policies and practices for avoiding sales to youths.
- Using computer/cash registers that require clerks to enter information from a customer's photo identification for the
sale of tobacco products and check identification for all persons who appear to be under age 27.
- Using signage about age requirements for purchasing tobacco, and restricting in-store advertising of tobacco products.
- Prohibiting distribution of free tobacco-product samples on store property.
- Displaying cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products only in restricted access locations that require customer
assistance [already restricted in Iowa.]
- Not using vending machines to sell tobacco products [already restricted in Iowa.]
"Walgreens has stepped forward and demonstrated its commitment to responsible marketing of tobacco products," Miller
said. "We certainly hope other companies will follow this example."
Steve St. Clair of the Iowa Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division is helping lead the 23-state group that is
encouraging giant retail chains to adopt stronger measures to prevent sales to minors. "These chains have many
thousands of retail outlets nationwide," Miller said. "We hope others follow the good lead set by Walgreens."
The agreement cites national statistics that four out of five regular adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and
that the younger a person begins smoking, the more likely it is that he or she will be unable to quit later in life. Recent
studies also indicate that youth demonstrate signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.
"In Iowa, about a thousand youths take up tobacco each month," Miller said, "and we can expect one-third of them to
suffer premature illness and death as a result of tobacco-related diseases. This is a crucial issue for us in Iowa."
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