Walgreens has announced it will require customers who want to buy tobacco products to be at least 21 years old.But don’t endorse a Walgreens presidential run just yet — the announcement comes weeks after the FDA accused the drugstore chain of repeatedly selling tobacco products to minors.
Nailed by the undercover boss
During his time as FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb took aim at teenage vaping, intent on keeping vape pushers like Juul and Altria from selling to minors. In the midst of his crusade, Walgreens was hit by undercover inspections and reportedly “racked up almost 1.8k violations” related to the sale of tobacco products to minors. And that was just last month.After the investigation, Gottlieb concluded that Walgreens — one of the largest drugstore chains in the US — was the “top violator” among the pharmacies the agency had inspected.
Nicotine profits: the most addictive of all
In order to save face, Walgreens has suddenly leaned into its new “Tobacco 21” policy, saying in a press release, “‘Tobacco 21’ reinforces other recent steps the company has taken.” Apparently the company still has some inventory to clear out, as the 21-year-old restriction won’t go into effect until September.Walgreens’ efforts are a far cry from its rivals’: This month, Rite Aid announced it would stop selling all e-cigarettes and vaping products, while CVS has been off tobacco since 2014. So, why doesn’t Walgreens quit altogether? According to Forbes, Walgreens believes its tobacco sales are a business decision designed to address “customer choice.” In other words, they’re making wayyy too much money to quit cold turkey.
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