Walgreens to implement 21-plus tobacco sales policy

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Walgreens to implement 21-plus tobacco sales policy

By David Salazar - 04/23/2019
Walgreens is taking a new approach to tobacco sales. The company on Tuesday announced that it will be implementing a chainwide policy requiring a shopper to be at least 21 years old to purchase tobacco products, effective Sept. 1. The move is aimed at preventing youth access to tobacco products, the company said.

“We’ve seen positive results from other recent efforts to strengthen our policies related to tobacco sales, and believe this next step can be even more impactful to reduce its use among teens and young adults,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “Through ongoing training and certification for pharmacists and technicians, we also continue to help and support people looking to quit the use of tobacco in their lives.”

The company’s new policy builds on Walgreens’ “Card All” policy that was implemented last October and required all shoppers buying tobacco products to provide age verification regardless of age. The new age limit also is in line with state and municipal efforts to raise the age limit for tobacco sales that Walgreens said it has supported.

In early April, Walgreens Boots Alliance vice chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina told the Wall Street Journal that the chain would continue to sell tobacco while also emphasizing smoking cessation. He also noted that Walgreens operates certain stores without cigarettes and has reduced tobacco products’ visibility in some stores.

“Our objective is to convince people not to smoke, so we give them a cigarette and we ask them whether they want to stop smoking,” Pessina told WSJ.

In March, Walgreens said it welcomed a meeting with Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb about its approach to preventing tobacco sales to minors following a letter from the agency about violations from certain stores.

Walgreens isn’t the only chain reassessing its approach to tobacco products. Rite Aid recently announced plans to eliminate e-cigarettes and vaping products from its stores amid increased FDA scrutiny on the products and their contribution to youth tobacco consumption.