Safeway Sued For Selling Cigarettes To Minors

Jun 17, 2004

By George Anderson

Safeway says it is being unjustly singled out.

The State of California says the retailer has an unacceptably high record of selling cigarettes to minors.

A Los Angeles Superior Court will decide where the truth lies, and whether the grocery retailer needs to change its sales practices and if it should be subject to thousands of dollars in fines.

Safeway released a company statement in response to the charges. “We believe our record of compliance regarding tobacco sales does not justify being singled out in this instance. We invest a great deal of time and resources to ensure our employees are well trained.”

The California attorney general’s office says whatever Safeway is doing is not enough. According to a Reuters report, “undercover inspections by state health officials showed that through March 2004, Safeway Inc. stores sold tobacco products to minors in 29.8 percent of cases. In 2003, the violation rate was 42.1 percent.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on California’s suit against Safeway for selling cigarettes to minors?
Is Safeway’s violation rate in line with other retailers or is it an anomaly?

While a nearly 30 percent violation rate is not acceptable (clearly 100 percent compliance is the only acceptable number), it does represent an improvement
for the chain’s stores in California. We have to question whether the taxpayers’ dollars are being well spent in this instance. Couldn’t the state and the retailer have worked
together for further improvements without having to go to court?

George Anderson – Moderator

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