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Retail Giants Urged to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

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Last Updated: Dec 3, 2016

Five of the country’s largest retailers on Sunday received letters from more than two dozens attorney generals urging them to shun selling tobacco products in stores with pharmacies. This is to follow the example of CVS Caremark with its announcement earlier this year that it will stop sales of such products in its drugstores.

Some of the largest retailers in the country who received the letter are Rite Aid, Walgreen, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart.

The letter said that there is a contradiction on having the dangerous and devastating tobacco products on their shelves of a retail chain that services care needs. Additionally, the letter also stated that stopping of these products will effectively bring them to a full circle, back from when the manufacturers advertised that “more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette” to a time when cigarettes won’t be bought from the same business selling doctors-prescribed products.

Larry J. Merlo, chief executive of CVS Caremark, said in February that tobacco products sales were inconsistent with their purpose. The company, with the hugest sales in overall products, is turning towards becoming a care provider, opening more mini-clinics as an example, and array of pills and toiletries.

Led by Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney generals represent 28 states and territories, some being Utah, Puerto Rico, Guam New Hampshire, Mississippi, and Rhode Island.

Schneiderman noted that pharmacies and drugstores are sending mixed messages by continuing to sell tobacco products, adding that they need to set back to the health of their customers across the country.

There is no potential legal action or a ban in the letter; they are simply urging the retailers to follow CVS’s initiative. However, a person with knowledge of the group’s thinking claimed retailers might face some reform or litigation if they don’t voluntarily stop the sales.

Other companies have shown no interest in following suite since the CVS announcement last week before the letters were sent, according to a spokesperson for Walgreen who highlighted the company’s program for those in need to stop smoking, but declined to mention if the company will do away with tobacco products.

Last month CVS estimated that their decision would cost an estimated $2 billion, for tobacco products and other gums that customers pick up at the same time. In 2012, the company’s total sales hit $123 billion, meaning the impact will be reasonably minute.

Meanwhile, public health officials hailed CVS’s decision and are hopeful that others will follow soon.

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