ExxonMobil's Tobacco Guidelines

Oil giant shares guidelines with branded marketers

Published in Tobacco E-News

By  Carole Donoghue, Petroleum Editor

IRVING, Texas -- ExxonMobil is no longer operating company-run retail stores, however, the corporation is still heavily invested in preventing tobacco sales to minors at its branded dealer and wholesale locations.

In documents sent to ExxonMobil wholesalers and obtained by Tobacco E-News/CSP Daily News, ExxonMobil’s U.S. branded wholesale manager Chris Mahoney shared measures the corporation’s company-run stores had successfully employed in the past.

“These efforts were part of a mutual cooperation agreement that the company entered into with the Attorneys General of 43 states in 2002,” wrote Mahoney in a letter dated Jan. 14 and titled, Tobacco Sales Compliance: Prevention of Tobacco Product Sales to Minors.

“Although no longer operating a (company-run) chain of stores, we are writing to highlight our part efforts/practices that we think will be useful examples for you and to remind you of your obligations in this area.”

Mahoney outlines such efforts including  a strong tobacco sales compliance check program made up of internal and external compliance checks and tobacco sales training for employees. Both internal and external compliance checks were conducted by an outside consulting firm specializing in “controlled substance” programs at the retail level. The corporation also made it a practice to share results with store employees, rewarding those who passed and disciplining any who failed the compliance checks.

“We found the checks particularly useful in identifying opportunities to improve compliance efforts, in reinforcing this important issue with store employees, and in enabling measurement of progress in this area,” Mahoney said. “If you have not done so, we strongly encourage that you establish your own compliance check program.”

In addition to compliance checks and training, ExxonMobil also developed signage and decals to alert both staff and customers of tobacco sales policies—signs that are legally required by certain states. Such reminders that customers must be 18 to buy tobacco products (and would be carded if they appeared to be under the age of 30) were typically placed in the following locations: facing outwards on doors where customers enter, on the counter next to the cash register, on the cash register itself, on tobacco product displays, and on doors where employees enter the sales area.

 If applicable, locations would include an additional sign on the cash register informing customers about the presence of a security camera used to detect any attempt made by a minor to purchase tobacco products.

Mahoney strongly urged all branded retailers to display such materials, regardless of whether or not it’s required in their particular state.

“Compliance with tobacco sales laws continues to be a matter of critical importance for ExxonMobil,” he wrote, directing recipients to a more detailed summary of the company’s tobacco compliance and training programs. “We believe you will find these retail practices helpful in setting up a compliance program for your stores.”