DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has risen the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 years old after it received criticism from the FDA earlier this year for selling tobacco products to minors.
The policy will be implemented chain-wide starting Sept. 1, the drug store company announced Tuesday in a press release, calling the change "the most recent step in an ongoing effort to further prevent youth access to tobacco products."
"We've seen positive results from other recent efforts to strengthen our policies related to tobacco sales, and believe this next step can be even more impactful to reduce its use among teens and young adults," said Walgreens President of Operations Richard Ashworth. "Through ongoing training and certification for pharmacists and technicians, we also continue to help and support people looking to quit the use of tobacco in their lives."
In March, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb accused Walgreens of being a top violator among drugstores that sell tobacco products, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, to minors, according to The Associated Press. Since 2010, Inspectors found 1,800 instances in which Walgreens stores violated the law.
At the time, Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said the company prohibited sales to minors and that employees that violate that policy would be fired immediately. Walgreens has more than 9,500 stores in the U.S., according to AP.
The new policy aligns with recent efforts by states and municipalities to restrict tobacco sales to customers 21 and older, according to Walgreens.
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