Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Wednesday, March 15, 2006.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Miller: CVS Pharmacies Will Take Steps to Curb Tobacco Sales to Minors

DES MOINES.   Attorney General Tom Miller said today that CVS Pharmacy, Inc., the nation's largest retail pharmacy, is adopting practices to reduce sales of tobacco products to minors. CVS has 5,400 stores across the country, and is acquiring Osco pharmacies nationwide -- including 11 in Iowa.

The CVS agreement was reached with Iowa and 42 other states, and Washington, D.C.

"These steps will help prevent sales of tobacco to minors," Miller said. "That's crucial because most smokers start and become addicted when they are young. This is just another step in our efforts to reduce smoking and the disaster it causes for smokers and taxpayers."

The "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" requires CVS to:

  • Limit in-store advertising of tobacco products to brand names, logos and pricing; confine signs to areas where tobacco products are sold; and ban self-service displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

  • Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under the age of 27, and accept as proof of age only a valid government-issued photo ID.
  • Prohibit using vending machines to sell tobacco products, distributing free samples, selling cigarette look-alike products, and selling smoking paraphernalia to minors.

  • Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks twice each year at 468 of its stores in the signing states.
  • 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.

Background:

The CVS "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" is the ninth such agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Previous agreements cover, in the signing states, all Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid and 7-Eleven stores, and all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, ARCO, Amoco, Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 brand names.

Miller and his office have helped lead the multi-state enforcement effort by a group of 34 Attorneys General. The group focuses on retailers with poor records of selling tobacco products to minors, which is prohibited by state laws. The enforcement program's goal is to obtain corrective action by companies. The agreements incorporate "best practices" to reduce sales to minors, developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials.

"We commend CVS for working with us to tackle this public health problem," Miller said.

The Attorneys General have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. Studies show more than 80 percent of adult smokers begin 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 start smoking and that one-third of those persons ultimately will 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.

Success in Reducing Cigarette Sales:

Miller noted that efforts to reduce smoking overall are succeeding. Figures released last week show that U.S. tobacco sales for 2005 show a 4.2% decline from the year before, and a 21% decline since 1998, when the "Master Settlement Agreement" (MSA) was reached that imposed major public health restrictions on the advertising, promotion and marketing of cigarettes by tobacco companies. There were 378 billion cigarettes sold in the US in 2005 - the lowest number since 1951, and a decline all the more impressive because the U.S. population has more than doubled.

"We're on the right track, but we still have a long way to go to eliminate the disastrous consequences of tobacco," Miller said.

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