Rite Aid adopts 21-plus tobacco sales policy

Rite Aid is raising the age limit for tobacco sales in its stores.

On the heels of its announced plan to remove e-cigarettes and vaping products from all of its stores, Rite Aid said Tuesday it would raise the age for buying tobacco products to 21 years old chainwide. The announcement came the same day as Walgreens’ commitment to only sell tobacco products to customers ages 21 years old and older, making the policy standard across both major drug chains still selling tobacco products (CVS Pharmacy phased tobacco out in 2014).

Rite Aid COO Bryan Everett said the policy would go into effect in the next 90 days — the same timeline previously announced for phasing out e-cigs. He also noted that the company would continue to enforce its policy of asking for ID for all age-restricted purchases, including tobacco products.

"Raising the age for purchasing tobacco products is an important step in our efforts to ensure that these products do not fall into the hands of children and teens," Everett said. "Our decision is directly related to research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that shows over 80 percent of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette before they turned 18, and nearly 95 percent started before age 21. By raising the purchase age, we are furthering our commitment to promoting responsible access to tobacco products."

Rite Aid said it would continue its smoking cessation efforts and expanding offerings in that category while reducing its tobacco visibility and footprint. The company said it has trained its pharmacists to provide counseling through its Quit For You program, among others, offering a personalized approach to quitting smoking.