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R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO CO. ANNOUNCES RETAIL PROGRAM TO ENCOURAGE COMPLIANCE WITH MINIMUM-AGE LAWS FOR THE SALE OF CIGARETTES

 R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO CO. ANNOUNCES RETAIL PROGRAM TO ENCOURAGE
 COMPLIANCE WITH MINIMUM-AGE LAWS FOR THE SALE OF CIGARETTES
 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced today that it has developed a comprehensive retail program to encourage compliance with minimum-age laws for the sale of cigarettes. Trade associations and retailers representing more than 10,000 stores have already agreed to participate in the nationwide program.
 Called "Support The Law -- It Works," the program provides training and instructional material for store clerks to help them comply with minimum-age laws on age-restricted products. The program, developed jointly by RJR and retailers nationwide, also includes in-store signs alerting customers that age identification is required to purchase age- restricted products, including cigarettes.
 RJR will make the training program available free of charge to several hundred thousand retail stores, and will produce the package in both English and Spanish.
 "We all agree that kids shouldn't smoke," said James W. Johnston, R.J. Reynolds chairman and chief executive officer. "Forty-eight states already have laws that prohibit the sale of cigarettes to minors. Studies show that when these minimum-age laws are followed, access to cigarettes is reduced by 50 percent or more. This means a significant reduction in underage smoking," he said.
 Currently, about 18.5 percent of high school seniors smoke daily, down from 28.8 percent in 1977. Johnston said reducing teens' access to cigarettes should help accelerate this decline.
 A number of trade associations, major retail chains and independent stores have endorsed the program and will be receiving the material to be used as part of their training programs.
 "One of the biggest problems convenience store employees have is saying 'no' to a customer; it's a difficult process," said Robert L. Beaman, executive vice president of Zip Mart stores. "This tape and literature teaches our people how to say 'no' effectively without offending the customer. We're going to use the program in all our stores," he said.
 According to Robert B. Stein, Jr., executive vice president - store operations for Dairy Mart, "the 'Support The Law' program is an excellent tool to help communicate to store employees, the community in general, and parents and children in particular, about how serious we are about restricting the sale of cigarettes to people under age. We are rolling out the program to all of our 1,100 stores," he said.
 "Keeping cigarettes out of the hands of minors is one of our priorities," said Catherine A. Flaherty, executive director of the New England Convenience Store Association, representing 2,000 stores in six states. "I'm confident that our members will aggressively support this program. It will help them in their ongoing efforts to train employees and educate their customers, both parents and kids," she said.
 In endorsing the RJR program, Joseph R. Solomon, president of CAL- PAC, South Association, an organization representing African-American- owned retail stores in California, said, "this program will help our retailers not sell cigarettes to minors."
 "What makes this program different," said RJR's Johnston, "is the approach and execution. It was designed with the direct input of retailers and provides the appropriate tools and materials for retailers to effectively comply with the law. For stores that already have training and development programs, 'Support The Law' complements their efforts.
 "As retail outlets place additional training emphasis on state minimum age laws, some improvement in the decline of youth smoking should be seen over a period of time. Increased awareness of such laws by retail employees and customers is an appropriate step in this process," he said.
 The focal point of the program is a training package being sent to store managers. It contains a seven-minute instructional videotape that guides store employees in proven ways to support age-restriction laws. Also included are training booklets; laminated reminder cards carrying easy "do's and don'ts" for selling age-restricted products; point-of- purchase signs; state law reminder tear pads, and other training and reminder materials.
 "Support The Law -- It Works!" is one part of RJR's overall youth non-smoking effort. Other programs under the "Right Decisions, Right Now" campaign include in-school instructional programs, outdoor advertising, and informational "coaching" materials for parents. These efforts are designed to complement existing programs by the tobacco industry and other organizations.
 -0- 9/9/92
 /CONTACT: Mark D. Smith, Public Relations, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, 919-741-6684/ CO: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. ST: North Carolina IN: TOB SU:


SB -- CH006 -- 7420 09/09/92 10:30 EDT
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Date:Sep 9, 1992
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