For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 21, 2005

ConocoPhillips Agrees to Steps to Prevent Tobacco Sales to Minors

ConocoPhillips Company has agreed to policy changes that are expected to discourage underage tobacco sales at approximately 10,000 gas station/convenience stores operating under the Conoco, 76, or Phillips 66 trademarks, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today.

The agreement, called an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance,” noted that 47% of youth who report buying cigarettes identify gas stations as their primary point of purchase, and another 27% identify convenience stores.

According to Wasden, about 10,000 of the outlets affected by this agreement are independently owned businesses with contracts to operate under one of the ConocoPhillips trademarks. ConocoPhillips agreed to include provisions in these contracts expressly requiring compliance with legal prohibitions against tobacco sales to minors.

“Restricting access to tobacco by minors is important to public health. A large majority of smokers become addicted by their mid-teens,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The earlier an addiction to tobacco takes hold, the tougher it is to quit and the more likely it is that a tobacco-related disease will result. ConocoPhillips is taking a very positive step by building this important issue into its franchise and trademark license agreements.”

When franchise and trademark license agreements are renewed or new ones are entered into, ConocoPhillips will require franchisees and trademark licensees to report to company headquarters any underage tobacco sales infractions that occur, through law enforcement “stings” or otherwise. Wasden said the reporting requirement, coupled with the awareness that violations can jeopardize the right to operate under company trademarks, should be a powerful motivator for independent operators to do everything they can to keep from selling tobacco to minors.

ConocoPhillips has also agreed to write to each franchisee and trademark licensee annually to remind them of the importance of preventing tobacco sales to minors and the fact that non-compliance with underage tobacco sales laws could constitute grounds for ending their right to operate under the ConocoPhillips trademarks.

In addition to the requirements relating to independently owned and operated retail outlets, the agreement contains a series of policies and procedures that will be fully implemented at ConocoPhillips’ 327 company-owned and operated stores and will serve as a model set of safeguards for the approximately 10,000 independently owned and operated outlets.

The policies and procedures adopted for company owned and operated stores include:

  • Adopting standards for hiring and training employees regarding sale of tobacco products.
  • Instructing clerks to check identification for all tobacco customers who appear to be under 35 and accept only valid, government-issued photo identification.
  • Using security videotapes of tobacco sales transactions to monitor compliance and posting signs warning underage customers that their attempt to purchase may be caught on tape.
  • Programming cash registers to aid clerks, when possible. For example, when a tobacco product is scanned, a cash register would lock and prompt the clerk to ask for identification.
  • Eliminating self-service tobacco displays, including vending machines, and prohibiting distribution of free tobacco products on store property.
  • Arranging for an independent entity to perform random compliance checks involving youthful-appearing tobacco purchasers twice each year at each company owned store.
  • Maintaining a policy against increasing youth demand for tobacco through in-store advertising and limiting such advertising to brand names, logos, other trademarks, and pricing.
  • Designating an employee who will be responsible for addressing compliance with tobacco sale laws and monitoring reports of infractions by company owned outlets and franchisees.

There are currently 183 outlets in Idaho. Each of these outlets is independently owned with a contract to operate under one of the ConocoPhillips trademarks.

Similar agreements have been reached with Walgreens, ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, Wal-Mart, ARCO, Rite-Aid and 7-Eleven. Combined, the agreements affect more than 55,000 retail outlets across the nation.

Wasden joined the attorneys general of 39 other states in the agreement with ConocoPhillips.

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