Cumberland Farms Launches SmartPay CheckLink For Business

Cumberland Farms, Framingham, Mass., has launched its SmartPay Check-Link Business payment program, which enables business owners to save 10 cents on every gallon of gas for their fleet of vehicles.

Similar to its SmartPay Check-Link program for consumers that launched in January of 2013, SmartPay Business offers two ways to save — the SmartPay Business Card and the SmartPay Business Mobile App.

Both are free and automatically save users 10 cents on every gallon of gas. Business owners can add as many drivers as they’d like to their SmartPay Business account, - and in addition to the savings, the program offers business owners increased oversight of their fleet’s fuel usage and savings with the ability to track the gas consumption of individual drivers and set driver-specific limits.

“We’re very excited about the launch of SmartPay Business and to extend the incredible savings and benefits of SmartPay to business owners,” said Ari Haseotes, Cumberland Farms president. “We created this payment program as a secure and straightforward way for business owners to save significantly on their fuel costs while also managing their fleets and tracking fuel spending. We’ve saved consumers more than $12 million to date with the program, and we hope to achieve similar success with SmartPay Business.”

Business owners have the ability to set different limits for different drivers and generate easy-to-read reports detailing the number of gallons purchased, the locations of purchase and their total savings with the program. Business owners can even track mileage using an optional odometer feature.

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Judge Finds Conflict of Interest In FDA Menthol Review Findings

A federal judge has ruled in favor of two tobacco companies that challenged a 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee report on menthol cigarettes, finding that three of the panel’s members had conflicts of interests.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the FDA to assemble a new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) and barred the agency from using the panel’s findings, which said removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health, describing the report as “tainted.”

Lorillard Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company filed the lawsuit alleging that three of the 12 members of the advisory panel had conflicts of interest which biased them against the tobacco industry.

In his ruling, Judge Leon cited the doctors’ work as consultants to the pharmaceutical industry regarding tobacco cessation products and their roles as paid expert witnesses in litigation against tobacco product manufacturers. “The presence of conflicted members on the committee irrevocably tainted its very composition and its work product,” the judge said in his decision. He added that the findings that menthol cigarettes harm public health are “at a minimum, suspect, and at worst, untrustworthy.”

According to news reports, FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said the agency was reviewing the decision to determine how to proceed.

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Mixed Reactions To Kentucky’s Government Run Gas Station

The City of Somerset, Ky., recently entered the retail fueling business, having converted a city-owned fuel storage facility into a “no-frills” gas station that sells gas for just a few cents below local fuel retailers.

Somerset city officials claim they have the best interests of their 11,000 residents in mind, trying to keep gas prices low, while showing “big oil” that they won’t be pushed around. According to an Associated Press report, Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said, “We decided we’ve got backbone and we’re not going to allow the oil companies to dictate to us what we can and cannot do. We don’t care if we don’t sell a drop of gasoline. Our objective is to lower the price.”

“There are at least two facts that get in the way of the premise that this will force oil companies to reduce prices,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic initiatives at NACS. “First, only about 0.4 percent of gas stations are owned by an integrated oil company. Second, retailers, regardless of makeup, have a very small impact on prices at the pump. Fuel gross margins — before expenses — have averaged 17.1 cents over the past five years, about 5 percent of the cost.”

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Latest Word in C-Store News...

Mars Chocolate North America plans to raise prices for U.S. chocolate products by about 7 percent to offset rising costs. The announcement comes a week after Hershey announced an 8 percent increase.

• Three states (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont) plan to file suit against 5-Hour Energy for alleged misleading advertising practices regarding ingredients and product impact.

• The NYACS Day At the Races is set for Aug. 6 at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga, N.Y.

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