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    BP Takes On Underage Smoking

    Tough screening measures enacted through agreement with 39 states

    QUAD CITY, Iowa -- BP retailers here are being directed by the parent company to adopt steps aimed at reducing underage tobacco sales.

    The move is in response to an agreement BP America reached with state attorneys general offices from 39 states to impose tougher screenings measures, the Quad-City Times reported.

    Under the arrangement, 900 BP America-owned retail stores and 12,000 franchise locations will:

    * Check identification for tobacco customers who appear under 35 years of age.

    * Use videotape systems to monitor compliance.

    * Program cash registers to warn cashiers about patrons' birth dates.

    * Emphasize tobacco compliance in hiring and training.

    BP managers in this Iowa community said they already are practicing most of these steps.

    "We instruct our employees to check anyone who looks 30 or younger," Julie Brown, general manager of four BP stations in Quad-Cities, told the newspaper. "We already have surveillance cameras and our cash registers are programmed to spot underage sales."

    Cindy Gealy, supervisor at six Big Ten Marts operated by BP franchisee, Molo Oil Co. of Dubuque, Iowa, said employees caught selling tobacco products to minors are fired. In fact, she said she conducts compliance checks herseld using an underage employee. "If the underage person with me is able to buy tobacco or alcohol, the person who sold it is fired immediately."

    Conversely, Molo rewards vigilant employee, awarding staffers $25 for finding and confiscating fake IDs.

    As part of the master agreement, BP America also said it would hire independent companies to perform random compliance checks. The 39 state attorneys general previously had entered similar agreements with Walgreens and Exxon Mobil Corp.

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