By Phil Wahba
March 17 A group of 28 U.S. attorneys general
has urged Walmart and four other big retailers to stop selling
tobacco products, saying they should not be available in stores
that provide health care services.
The group sent a letter on Sunday to chief executive
officers of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, supermarket operators
Kroger Co, Safeway Inc, which operate pharmacies,
and drugstore chains Walgreen Co and Rite Aid Corp.
"Pharmacies and drug stores, which increasingly market
themselves as a source for community health care, send a mixed
message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products," New York
Attorney General Eric Schneider man said in a statement on
Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Rite Aid and Kroger all said they were
reviewing the letter, while Safeway did not respond to requests
Schneider and Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewiness led a
group of 28 states and territories, including Arizona,
Connecticut, Illinois, Puerto Rico and Guam calling for the
Last month, CVS Caremark Corp, which runs the No. 2
U.S. drugstore chain after Walgreen, said it would stop selling
tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by Oct. 1, making it the
first national drugstore chain in the United States to take
cigarettes off the shelves.
The letter from the attorneys general did not mention
electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes, which some politicians and
scientists say could be a gateway to smoking, generated sales of
nearly $2 billion last year and are growing in popularity.
U.S. cigarette sales totaled $91.5 billion last year,
according to Euromonitor International.
Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Kroger and Rite Aid all sell
e-cigarettes. CVS does not.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered cartridges that look like
cigarettes and contain a nicotine liquid that, when heated,
creates an inhalable vapor. This vapor, advocates say, is less
dangerous than traditional cigarette smoke since it does not
contain lung-damaging tar.
Los Angeles City Council this month voted to ban the use of
e-cigarettes, from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other
public spaces, joining a growing list of cities, including New
York, Boston and Chicago, that restrict the use of e-cigarettes.