Third National Retailer Agrees To Implement Reforms Against Underage Sale Of Tobacco

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with one of the nation's largest oil companies to tighten its procedures to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors.

BP North America, Inc., commonly known as BP Amoco, agreed to enact stringent new reforms including checking the identification for tobacco customers who are under 35 years of age and the using video-tape systems to monitor compliance.

"Protecting the nation's youth against the harmful effects of tobacco use is a priority for my office," Spitzer said. "We commend BP Amoco for recognizing the importance of the issue and joining us in the effort to safeguard our nation's youth against addiction and disease."

Under the agreement, BP Amoco will enact the following reforms at its approximately 900 company-owned stores:

  • Adopting standards for hiring and training employees regarding the sale of tobacco products;
  • Instructing clerks to check identification for all tobacco customers who appear to be under the age of 35, and using security video-systems to monitor compliance;
  • Programming cash registers to aid clerks in checking identification and proper age;
  • Eliminating cigarette vending machines and prohibiting distribution of free tobacco products in its stores;
  • Arranging for an independent entity to perform random compliance checks involving youthful tobacco purchasers at about 450 company stores each year to permit the company to gauge the success of its training and other efforts; and
  • Designating an employee within each business unit to oversee implementation of the agreement and monitor violations on the part of retail outlets in that unit.

BP Amoco also agreed to amend future franchise agreements to include a provision specifically requiring compliance with laws regarding youth access to tobacco and expressly providing that violations could constitute grounds for terminating the franchise. Also, BP Amoco will offer franchisees the opportunity to participate in the company's tobacco program that performs compliance checks.

BP Products has 327 company-owned and franchised sites in New York State and more than 33,000 across the nation.

This case represents the third multi-state agreement with a national tobacco retailer. Walgreens and ExxonMobil also have settled cases with the states and promised to enact similar reforms to protect against the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors.

Joining New York in the agreement with BP Amoco are the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Melvin Goldberg of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.