Walgreens sets pace for reducing tobacco sales to minors

From Staff Reports

   Every day in the United States, more than 2,000 persons under age 18 begin smoking cigarettes and one-third of those persons one day will die from a tobacco-related disease.
   But the Walgreens drug store chain is hoping to change that.
   Wednesday, Walgreens sent smoke signals which the Tennessee Office of Attorney General hopes will be read by other drug stores and retailers throughout the nation.
   According to Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers, the Tennessee Attorney General's Office and Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs joined 40 states in an agreement with Walgreens to set forth retailing "best practices" and protections designed to reduce youth access to tobacco products.
   Under the agreement, which establishes standards for hiring, employment and training of Walgreens employees with regard to tobacco sales, store clerks will be instructed to check identification for anyone who doesn't look 27 years old.
   The drug chain also will institute a secret shopper program to monitor sales to minors and will adopt policies prohibiting self-service displays of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, the sale of cigarette papers or pipes to minors, and the distribution of free samples on store property. In-store advertising of tobacco products also will be restricted.
   The chain will continue to use cash registers in its stores which require clerks to enter information from customers' photo I.D. for the sale of tobacco products.
   "Walgreens should be commended for its cooperation to establish important safeguards to prevent tobacco sales to minors," Summers said. "While many retailers express their desire to reduce underage sales, Walgreens has demonstrated its commitment."