For Immediate Release - April 09, 2010

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley Announces Agreement with Valero to Curb Tobacco Sales to Minors

BOSTON -Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, along with Attorneys General from 37 states and the District of Columbia, has entered into an agreement with national gas retailer Valero over alleged illegal sales of tobacco products to minors. Under the terms of the agreement, Valero Retail Holdings, Inc. and Valero Marketing and Supply Company (together, "Valero") have agreed to adopt procedures designed to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors at more than 4,900 gas station convenience stores operating nationwide under a variety of Valero trademarks. The states also will receive $100,000 as part of the agreement.

"We are pleased that Valero is willing to adopt the protocols outlined in this agreement to prevent illegal sales of tobacco to youth," said Attorney General Coakley. "This should send a message to other retailers that we are watching this issue closely and take illegal sales of cigarettes to minors very seriously."

Valero owns approximately 1,000 convenience store outlets and has nearly 4,000 franchise retail outlets nationally under the following trademarks: Valero, Beacon, Diamond, Shamrock, Ultramar, Corner Store and Stop N Go. A number of franchise outlets are located within Massachusetts.

Under the settlement, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Valero has agreed to:

  • Provide comprehensive training to convenience store retail personnel regarding laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors,
  • Arrange random, independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices at Valero owned convenience stores,
  • Maintain a policy against increasing youth demand for tobacco through in-store advertising, and limit such advertising to brand names, logos, other trademarks, and pricing,
  • Consider terminating or refusing to renew agreements with franchisees who do not comply with youth access laws,
  • Require timely notification to Valero if a store receives notice of a violation of federal, state or local youth access laws.

The agreement was the result of an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort among the Attorneys General, and incorporates "best practices" in tobacco sales developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with public health researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials.

Massachusetts law prohibits tobacco sales to minors. According to the settlement, studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and that young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.

Since June 2008, General Coakley has co-chaired the Tobacco Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General. As Co-Chair, she is responsible for recommending and overseeing policies related to implementation and operation of the landmark settlement agreement with tobacco manufacturers, as well as public health matters including youth access and marketing.

Additional information regarding the tobacco enforcement efforts by the Attorney General's Office, including the tobacco sales regulations and other laws governing tobacco, can be found in the Community Safety section of the Attorney General's website. Anyone who suspects violations of tobacco sales regulations or other laws governing tobacco may submit a available on the Attorney General's website.

Massachusetts was a lead negotiator in this settlement. Other states participating in the settlement were: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Koenig of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division.