Retail giant Wal-Mart has taken the moral high road in recent agreements with 43 states, Arizona among them.
This new pact curbs tobacco sales to minors with some extra safeguards to alert employees. Terms of the agreement require Wal-Mart to:
• Hire an independent company to conduct random compliance checks of Wal-Mart stores;
• Train employees about state and local laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors;
• Check the identification of anyone buying tobacco products who appears to be younger than 27 years old;
• Accept only valid government-issued photo identification as proof of age;
• Use cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on all tobacco sales;
• Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, tobacco vending machines and distribution of free tobacco samples on store property;
• Prohibit sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.
Wal-Mart deserves commendation for going a step beyond to keep children away from tobacco.
Programs abound – in schools and throughout the media – with the message that cigarettes are dangerous. Young people know the risks of tobacco and other dangerous substances, yet they ignore the warnings and indulge anyway. Why? Because peer pressure carries a stronger message, sad to say. Risk-taking and following the pack tempt teens more often than words of wisdom.
That's why adults must sometimes jump in and remove the risks from children's paths.
Some risks are character-building, but tobacco is foolhardy.