One of the largest gas station chains in the country agreed on Wednesday to curb tobacco sales to minors.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper and Consumer Affairs Director Mary Clement reached an agreement with Valero Oil, owner of 1,000 convenience stores and 4,000 franchises, to step up measures such as checking identification for those who appear younger than 27, monitor clerks with video, eliminate self-service displays and implement other measures.
Valero also operates outlets under brands names including Beacon, Diamond, Shamrock, Ultramar, Corner Store, and Stop N Go. There are 10 outlets in Tennessee, including franchises.
“We commend Valero for taking strong steps to prevent tobacco sales to youths,” Cooper said. “Most smokers started as children, and one-third of children who take up smoking will die from a tobacco-related disease. And studies have shown that some 47 percent of young people who buy cigarettes say gas station outlets are their primary point of purchase.”
Valero also agreed to change the terms of its franchise contracts so that tobacco sales to minors must be reported to Valero, and illegal sales could result in the loss of the franchise.
Tennessee was one of 39 states that reached agreement with Valero Retail Holdings Inc., and Valero Marketing and Supply Company, based in San Antonio, Texas.
The agreement marks the latest in a series of multi-state assurances reached with the nation’s largest tobacco retailers. Other agreements have been reached with Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS drug store chains; ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, ARCO, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Shell oil companies; Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven retailers; and the Kroger grocery chain. The settlements together affect about 100,000 retail outlets across the nation, according to Cooper’s office.