Walgreens tests stores sans tobacco, but sticks with the category: WSJ

Though Walgreens currently operates stores that don’t sell tobacco products, Walgreens Boots Alliance vice-chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina has said the company will continue selling cigarettes while also emphasizing smoking cessation, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

“The safety of our patients is very important, but we also have to do what our customers are requiring us to do,” Pessina recently told WSJ. “We see that when we don’t sell tobacco, we have a lot of [negative] reactions.”

The report noted that currently, Walgreens doesn’t sell cigarettes in any of its New York City, Massachusetts and San Francisco stores because of local laws prohibiting drug stores from selling them. Additionally, it has 17 Gainesville, Fla., stores without tobacco products, plus one near its Deerfield, Ill. headquarters.

Pessina noted that the chain will continue to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in most of its locations, adding that it has reduced tobacco products’ visibility in some stores. He also highlighted a focus on smoking cessation.

“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,” he told WSJ.

The report noted, per Euromonitor data, drug stores in 2017 saw 1.7% of cigarette sales volume and 39% of smoking cessation product sales money in 2018.
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