On announcing the age limit, the drugstore chains said that the effort is aimed at curbing underage tobacco use. “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 Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “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.”
Acting to prevent teen vaping?
The drugstore chains say that the effort is aimed at curbing underage tobacco use.
Last September, the US FDA launched a campaign against teen vaping. The message put across is one saying that while e-cigarettes deliver addictive nicotine, the toxins in the devices could have unexpected health effects.
“We are acting on very clear science that there’s an epidemic on the way,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb at the time. “We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise in the number of teens using e-cigarettes in just the last year.”
In the same month, the agency had issued more than 1,000 warning letters to U.S. retailers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes, in what the agency called “the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history.”
Cooperating with the FDA
In response to this, last March, Walgreens said that it welcomed a meeting with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb about its approach to preventing tobacco sales to minors, following the receipt of the letter from the agency.
Meanwhile, Rite Aid said that this move coincides with its previously announced plan to remove e-cigarettes and vaping products from all of its stores. “Raising the age for purchasing tobacco products is an important step in our efforts to ensure that these products do not fall into the hands of children and teens,” Rite Aid CEO Bryan Everett said.
“Our decision is directly related to research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that shows over 80 percent of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette before they turned 18, and nearly 95 percent started before age 21. By raising the purchase age, we are furthering our commitment to promoting responsible access to tobacco products.”
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