For Immediate Release - May 19, 2011

Circle K Agrees to Curb Underage Tobacco Sales Under Agreement with AG Martha Coakley

BOSTON - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, along with Attorneys General from 38 states and the District of Columbia, has entered into an agreement with Circle K, the nation's second largest operator of convenience stores, to enhance their efforts to curb underage tobacco sales. Under the terms of the agreement, Circle K Stores, Inc. and Mac's Convenience Stores LLC (together, "Circle K") have agreed to implement procedures designed to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors at more than 4,000 convenience stores operating nationwide. The states also will receive $225,000 as part of the agreement.

"We are pleased that Circle K has agreed to these protocols, all of which are aimed at preventing illegal sales and improper marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors," said Attorney General Coakley. "Underage access to tobacco remains an important public health issue, and other retailers should take note that we are watching this issue closely."

Circle K owns more than 2,900 "Circle K" branded retail outlets nationwide, and has approximately 950 nationwide franchise sites operated as either "On the Run" or "Dairymart." Approximately 65 stores are located in Massachusetts.

Under the settlement, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Circle K has agreed to the following:

  • 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 Circle K stores,
  • Limit in-store advertising of tobacco in order to reduce the effect on minors, and eliminate outward-facing and outdoor advertising within 500 feet of playgrounds or schools,
  • 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 and,
  • Require timely notification to Circle K 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. Other states participating in today's settlement are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

Massachusetts law prohibits tobacco sales to minors. Studies show that more than 80% of regular 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.

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 tobacco complaint form available on the Attorney General's website.

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