Walgreens has fought ending tobacco sales in its stores, and now we know why. The “corner of happy and healthy” has continually violated federal laws by selling tobacco products to minors and is “the top violator among pharmacies that sell tobacco products.”
The drug store chain has been “issued more than 1,500 warning letters and 240 civil money penalty actions” nationwide for its underaged tobacco sales. One store in Miami, Florida is so bad that the FDA filed a complaint to bar it from selling tobacco products for 30 days.
The FDA Commissioner will be requesting a meeting with Walgreens corporate management regarding this issue. Walgreens has almost 1,800 violations across the U.S. for sales to minors. Of the Walgreen’s stores the FDA inspected 22% sold tobacco products illegally.
But Walgreens isn’t the only retailer the FDA has its sites on. Circle K Stores Inc, a chain of convenience stores, has also had violations for selling tobacco products to minors. One store in Charleston, South Carolina will be barred from selling tobacco products for 30 days. Other stores inspected by the FDA and the percentage of their stores that sold tobacco products illegally included Walmart, Inc (17.5%), Dollar General Corp (14%) and Rite Aid Corp, (9.6%).
A Walgreen’s spokesman said they take this matter very seriously, requiring identification of anyone purchasing tobacco, regardless of age. Circle K also spoke out that they will work with the FDA on this issue.
The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey estimates 4.9 million middle and high school students have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days. In Florida, 29.2% of high school students are currently using (past 30 days) cigarettes, cigars, hookah, vaping, flavored cigarettes or flavored cigars, an increase of 33.9% in the past year alone. Middle school students are at 10.0% for current use of the same tobacco list above, an increase of 35.1% in the last year.
It is clearly evident that retailers are ignoring federal tobacco age laws and allowing teens to obtain tobacco products illegally. All tobacco retailers know the federal laws concerning tobacco sales to minors. Perhaps it is time for the FDA to get tougher on the stance of illegal sales to minors in an effort to protect the health of our kids.
Click HERE to read the entire news article from CBS News