Walgreens To Raise Minimum Age For Tobacco Sales

Walgreens ups tobacco buying age to 21 amid FDA crackdown

Walgreens ups tobacco buying age to 21 amid FDA crackdown

The decision comes after the FDA says Walgreens had "racked up nearly 1,800 violations" related to the sale of tobacco products to minors.

Walgreens will soon require customers to be at least 21 years old to purchase tobacco products in all its stores. The move comes about a month after the FDA issued a warning to the pharmacy chain over its high rate of tobacco sales to minors.

Lawmakers in a dozen states have already bumped the minimum tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21 under the Tobacco 21 policy.

In early April, Illinois joined the ranks of a number of U.S. states who have raised the age for legal sales to 21; others who have passed such laws include Washington, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts, Arkansas and Virginia.

At the time, Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said the company prohibited sales to minors and that employees that violate that policy would be fired immediately.

Walgreens said studies have shown that cities that do not sell tobacco products to anyone under 21 realize a "sharp decline" in tobacco use among the 18-20 demographic.

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The FDA noted that Walgreens is the top violator among pharmacies selling tobacco products.

Walgreens is taking steps to keep tobacco out of the hands of young people.

"Walgreens should recognize that there is a fundamental conflict between their mission as a health care provider and the sale of tobacco products, which are the number one cause of preventable death", Myers said in a statement.

The new "Tobacco 21" policy is among other steps Walgreens has taken including the implementation of a "Card All" policy which requires ID verification regardless of age on all tobacco sales in its stores.

He added that pharmacists and technicians will receive ongoing training and certification to help people with smoking cessation efforts.

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