Pipes commonly used to smoke illegal drugs are no longer available at convenience stores in Dawson County after the lone holdout agreed to go along with a local effort to ban the items.
Nancy Stites, a member of the Dawson County Meth Task Force, said Chevron corporate management ordered Rahul Gilani to remove the pipes from his store on Nov. 19.
Gilani, who owns the Chevron station near Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53, had maintained his customers had not been offended by the pipes, which are legal when sold for tobacco use.
In response to pressure from the task force, four other stores in the county quit selling the pipes earlier this month.
The group collected a petition with the signatures of more than 800 residents who said they would not shop the stores until the pipes were gone.
Task force president Doris Cook said she was in awe of the support the group received.
“We had so many people come together and now look at the results, look what we were able to do,” she said.
Cook said she spoke to a Chevron official, who confirmed that selling the pipes was a violation of the merchant’s contract with the company.
Dawson County resident Charlie Auvermann, whose 25-year career with Chevron took him around the world, said the corporation “has always had strong drug enforcement policy.”
Auvermann, who is now executive director of the development authority of Dawson County, made a few phone calls to several of his contacts with Chevron to see if he could help with the task force’s initiative.
“Whether I was working in San Ramon, Tengiz, Moscow, Port Moresby or Lagos/Escravos, that (drug) policy was in effect,” he said.
“I am extremely proud of Chevron and the positive role it has played in communities across this nation and the world.”
The stubbornness of the local Chevron to hold out led to a protest, which drew more than 200 people earlier this month.
Task force member Tony Wooten, who is also a Dawson County Sheriff’s officer, said the agency has tried for several years to convince local merchants to stop selling the pipes.
Since the protest, the Meth Task Force has received numerous telephone calls and e-mails in support of the initiative.
Stites has previously said the group heard from the owner of 75 convenience stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The man had read about the local effort and “just called to let us know he was taking the same initiative and asked what products we were asking them to remove.”
Gilani said he welcomes the community’s business.
“That’s why we took the pipes out,” he said.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.