FDA wants to block Walgreens from selling tobacco for a month after it racked up 1,800 violations for letting minors buy nicotine products
- The FDA threatened action against several US retailers that have been caught selling tobacco products to minors – including Walgreens
- The pharmacy giant got more violations than any other company
- In 22 percent of its stores, FDA inspectors caught workers selling tobacco products to minors
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slapping Walgreens with a 30-ban on tobacco sales after the retailer repeatedly sold tobacco products to minors, the agency said Thursday.
Walgreens is among several store chains that the FDA has filed claims against for breaching its rules on tobacco sales.
But the pharmacy giant’s violations far outstrip those made by other retailers. In 22 percent of its stores that the FDA inspected, Walgreens had sold cigarettes, cigars or e-cigarettes to underage people.
The FDA’s latest move against Walgreens comes after the store chain was among the top offenders fined for selling e-cigarettes to minors last year.
Walgreens sold tobacco to minors in 22 percent of the stores that the FDA investigated
Walgreens is currently the top violator among pharmacies that sell tobacco products, racking up 1,800 violations for selling tobacco to young people, a rap sheet FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said ‘astonished’ him.
‘I will be writing (to) 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,’ Commissioner Gottlieb said.
The FDA has been ramping up a campaign against what Commissioner Gottlieb has dubbed an ‘epidemic’ of teen vaping.
Health officials worry that vaping will lead teens to smoking.
Though the brunt of officials’ ire has fallen on Juul, the trendy, easily hidden device beloved by teens for for its poppy marketing and sweet e-liquid pods, the FDA is cracking down on retailers, too.
Walgreens did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The FDA filed complaints seeking to bar a Walgreens store in Miami, Florida and a Circle K store in Charleston, South Carolina, owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, from selling tobacco products for 30 days.
Alimentation Couche-Tard also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thursday’s action against Walgreens follows over 1,550 warning letters and 240 civil money penalty actions against its stores nationwide for unlawful tobacco product sales to minors, the agency said.
The FDA has rolled out a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan as part of its push to discourage teens from smoking.
Last year, the agency announced sweeping restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.
It also plans to seek a ban on menthol cigarettes, a longtime goal of public health advocates, as well as flavored cigars.
An epidemic-level rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes lately has led to a 38 percent increase in overall tobacco product use among high school students and 29 percent among middle school students last year, reversing the declines seen in the last few years, the FDA said. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)