Walmart, Other Major Retailers Pressured to Stop Selling Cigarettes

On Sunday, the CEOs of five nationwide retailers received a letter from public officials urging them to remove tobacco products from their stores.

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The letter — sent to Walmart (WMT), Walgreen (WAG), Rite Aid (RAD), Kroger (KR) and Safeway (SWY) — was signed by the attorneys general of 28 states. The officials complained of that stores that sold health care products and services while also selling  “these dangerous and devastating tobacco products” were facing a “contradiction.” While the letter did not threaten a legal measures to force the stores to ditch tobacco sales, a source told the New York Times that could transpire if the chains didn’t act voluntarily.

New York’s Attorney General, who also signed the letter, issued a statement saying that the retailers, which sell health care products and services, in addition to other items, were sending a “mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products.”

Walmart maintains a pharmacy department in addition to selling tobacco products, as do Kroger and Safeway supermarkets. Pharmacy chains Rite Aide and Walgreens sell a variety of other items outside of health care products.

CVS (CVS) said last month that it would discontinue tobacco product sales at its stores across the U.S. by the beginning of October.

In the wake of the CVS announcement, Walgreen said it was continuing to evaluate tobacco sales.

Shares of Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Rite Aid rose modestly in Monday morning trading, while Walgreen shares climbed more than 1%.

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