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FDA calls Walgreens' sale of tobacco to minors "disturbing"

The Food and Drug Administration says Walgreens sells more tobacco products to minors than any other pharmacy chain. Now the agency wants to meet with the co...

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 6:36 AM

The Food and Drug Administration says Walgreens sells more tobacco products to minors than any other pharmacy chain. Now the agency wants to meet with the company to discuss its tobacco and e-cigarette sales policies.

The FDA's request is part of the agency's broader crackdown on the sale of tobacoo and e-cigarette products to young people. Even though e-cigarettes can be used with non-tobacco products, it's illegal to sell them to anyone younger than 18.

The agency says the use of e-cigarettes by young people remains at "epidemic levels."

FDA inspectors have found nearly 1,800 cases since 2010 where Walgreens stores violated the law and illegally sold tobacco products to minors, according to a letter FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote Monday to Richard Ashworth, Walgreens' president of operations. Gottlieb said the company is the "top violator" among pharmacy chains that sell such products. 22% of the more than 6,000 Walgreens stores the FDA inspected made illegal sales.

Gottleib called the rate of violations at Walgreens "disturbing, particularly since the company positions itself as a health-and-wellness-minded business." He said Walgreens, as a retailer, plays an important role in curbing tobacco sales to minors, and he noted that the number of violations "cannot possibly come as a surprise to corporate leadership."

"These illegal sales must stop," Gottlieb wrote. "The stakes are too high for our young people and our country's decades-long fight to reduce the morbidity and mortality that accompanies tobacco product use."

Last month, the FDA moved to block all tobacco sales at a Walgreens store in Miami after the agency said a minor was allowed to purchase cigarettes there. It was the fifth time in three years the store had been cited for a violation by the FDA.

Walgreens told CNN Business that it looks forward to the meeting.

"We have a zero tolerance policy prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors and any employee violating this policy is subject to immediate termination," the company said in a statement. It added that it requires that employees check the age of anyone attempting to purchase a tobacco product, and said it is "lowering the visibility" of those products in "certain stores."

That contributed to a drop in retail sales during the company's first quarter, Walgreens said. Sales at stores open at least a year fell more than 3% during that time period, the company said when it reported earnings in December.

Walgreens' major competitor CVS halted the sale of tobacco products altogether in 2014. CVS' general merchandise sales fell 8% as a result.

CVS said it stopped selling tobacco because the practice "conflicted with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms will increase the flood threat across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
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