OLYMPIA - Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced the signing of an agreement with the Walgreens drug store chain that will help curb the sale of tobacco to minors.
Walgreens, which operates 45 stores in Washington State, signed the multi-state agreement implementing in-store procedures, employee training and other protections intended to reduce youth access to tobacco products.
"Decades of research shows that if you can prevent kids from smoking, they probably will never start as adults," Gregoire said. "Retailers have a big role in the fight to stop the addiction of our kids to tobacco products," she added.
Gregoire said it is hoped Walgreens' commitment to reduce youth access to tobacco will serve as a model for other stores that sell tobacco products.
The agreement establishes standards for the hiring, employment and training of Walgreens' employees who are involved in the sale of tobacco products. Walgreens will continue to use cash registers that require clerks to enter information from customers' photo identification for the sale of tobacco products, and will instruct its clerks to check ID for all people who appear to be under age 27.
The company will also institute a secret shopper program to monitor sales to minors. Walgreens also 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. It will restrict in-store advertising of tobacco products.
Walgreens voluntarily entered into the agreement after the states disclosed that federal compliance checks indicated the chain had made substantial sales of tobacco products to minors.
The agreement, an Assurance of Discontinuance, was approved yesterday by the Thurston County Superior Court. Under it, Walgreens has agreed to pay $320,000 to cover the 40 states' costs. Washington will receive approximately $9,300.