FDA Takes Action Against Retailers Selling Tobacco Products to Minors
On February 7 FDA initiated enforcement action against a Miami, Florida Walgreens and a Charleston, South Carolina Circle K store for repeated sales of tobacco products to minors. The enforcement action, called a no-tobacco-sale-order (NTSO) would prevent the individual stores from selling any tobacco product for thirty days.
In its press release, FDA noted that Walgreens is the top violator amongst pharmacies that sell tobacco products, having been cited for tobacco sales to minors during 22 percent of the retail compliance check inspections at Walgreens stores since they began in 2010. These violations have resulted in over 1,550 warning letters and 240 civil money penalties, but this is the first NTSO at a Walgreens store. Other stores identified as frequent violators include Walmart (17.5 percent of inspections resulted in sales to minors violations), Dollar General (14 percent), and Rite Aid (9.6 percent).
FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is quoted in the press release as being “deeply disturbed” by the number and frequency of sales to minors at Walgreens stores and he called on Walgreens management to meet with him to discuss why so many Walgreens stores fail to prevent sales to minors. Dr. Gottlieb speculated that the pharmacy setting might impact consumer perceptions regarding the safety of tobacco products.