Walgreens was officially been put “on notice” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for having the worst track record among all pharmacies for selling tobacco to kids.
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On Thursday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote that he was “deeply disturbed” to find out that Walgreens had racked up almost 1,800 violations since 2010 for selling tobacco products to minors across the country. Additionally, 22 percent of its more than 6,300 locations have sold products illegally to minors, the FDA said.
“I have particular concerns about whether the pharmacy setting is influencing consumer and retailer perceptions around tobacco products in a way that’s contributing to these troubling findings,” Gottlieb wrote, adding that he has officially “put them on notice” and is considering additional “enforcement avenues” if they don’t clean up their act.
In a statement to FOX Business, a Walgreens spokesperson said the company is taking this matter very seriously and has already taken a number of steps to address the issues, including requiring identification for anyone purchasing tobacco products regardless of their age.
“In addition, we are training all of our store team members on the new requirements and strengthening disciplinary actions against store employees who violate the policy,” Walgreens said.
The pharmacy chain is also open to meeting with Gottlieb on resolving the problem.
But Walgreens isn’t the only retailer under fire for its violations, others are as well.
More than 14 percent of Dollar General stores and 9.6 percent of Rite Aid stores inspected also had violations of selling tobacco products to minors.
The only pharmacy not listed was rival chain CVS Health, which stopped selling tobacco products several years ago.
Under federal law, the FDA may pursue a No-Tobacco-Sale Order against any retailer that has committed a total of five or more violations of federal tobacco regulations within 36 months.
According to a National Youth Tobacco Survey, an estimated 4.9 million middle and high school students reported using a tobacco product last year.