MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — Walmart announced Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco or e-cigarettes products to anyone under the age of 21 at all of their US stores.
The changes will take effect July 1 at all American Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
The company will stop selling sweet-flavored e-cigarettes, which have become popular among teenagers.
The policy shift comes after Walmart received a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration for not fully prohibiting kids under 18 from buying tobacco products at its stores. The FDA conducted roughly 13,000 compliance checks since 2010 and said Walmart passed only 93% of them.
“While we have implemented a robust compliance program, we are not satisfied with falling short of our company-wide goal of 100% compliance,” the company wrote. “Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard.”
In March, the FDA warned several retailers, including Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens, that they were violating rules against selling tobacco products to minors. The agency also labeled the use of e-cigarettes by young people as an “epidemic.”
In response, Walgreens said that its stores will no longer sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 starting September 1.
The FDA stipulates that tobacco and e-cigarettes may only be sold to people 18 years or older. But several states have raised the age for legal sales to 21, including Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, and California.
One in five high school students uses e-cigarettes, according to the surgeon general. Teen e-cigarette usage is soaring: The percentage of high school age children who say they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days rose by more than 75% between 2017 and 2018, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
In September, the FDA started a campaign to prevent kids from using e-cigarettes. It claims that nicotine use is hazardous to young adults’ health, even when inhaled with an e-cigarette.
The FDA was expected to ban e-cigarettes last year, but it instead pushed for e-cigarettes to be sold only in parts of stores that are closed-off to teenagers.
Juul Labs, the electronic cigarette company, released this statement:
“JUUL Labs commends Walmart for taking the responsible step to raise the age to purchase tobacco products, including vapor products, from 18 to 21. We strongly support Tobacco 21 policies, as they fight one of the largest contributors to youth usage – social sourcing through legal-age peers. We are committed to preventing underage access to our products and that is why in November 2018, we implemented a comprehensive action plan including stopping the sale of non-tobacco/non-menthol-based JUULpods to traditional retail stores. Industry and retail need to work with regulators to combat youth use and preserve the opportunity for adults to switch from combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world.”
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