Nation & World

FDA: Walgreens has worst record on selling tobacco to kids

Some 22 percent of its stores inspected illegally sold tobacco products to minors

Chicago Tribune/TNS

Walgreens officials say they take the FDA’s charge of selling tobacco products to minors “very seriously” and has made steps to address the issue.
Chicago Tribune/TNS Walgreens officials say they take the FDA’s charge of selling tobacco products to minors “very seriously” and has made steps to address the issue.

Walgreens has the worst track record among all pharmacies when it comes to selling tobacco products to minors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based pharmacy chain has racked up nearly 1,800 violations since 2010 for selling tobacco products to children, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

About 22 percent of the more than 6,300 Walgreens stores inspected since 2010 have illegally sold the products to young people, the agency said.

“I will be writing the corporate management of Walgreens and requesting a meeting with them to discuss whether there is a corporate-wide issue related to their stores’ non-compliance and put them on notice that the FDA is considering additional enforcement avenues to address their record of violative tobacco sales to youth,” Gottlieb said in a statement on the agency’s website.

Walgreens’ rate of violations is higher than not only other pharmacy chains, but a number of other large retailers as well, according to the FDA.

About 17.5 percent of Walmart stores inspected since 2010 have illegally sold tobacco to minors, along with 14 percent of Dollar General stores and 9.6 percent of Rite Aid Corp. stores.

Rival pharmacy chain CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products in 2014.

Walgreens said in a statement Thursday that it takes the matter “very seriously” and has made steps to address the issue, such as by requiring identification from anyone purchasing tobacco products, regardless of age.

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Walgreens is training all of its store employees and strengthening disciplinary actions against those who violate the store’s policy, according to the statement.

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