Following FDA Warning, Durbin Meets With Walgreens To Urge Pharmacy To Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Senator first called on Walgreens to end tobacco sales five years ago

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Walgreens Co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay to discuss tobacco sales to minors at their stores, and urge Walgreens to stop selling tobacco products.  Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that some of our nation’s largest health pharmacies have been illegally selling tobacco products to minors.  Walgreens was the top violator among pharmacies that sell tobacco products, with 22 percent of Walgreens stores investigated nationwide selling tobacco products—including e-cigarettes and flavored cigars—to children.

“Five years ago I asked Walgreens to follow the lead of CVS Pharmacy and stop selling tobacco products.  What’s happened in those five years?  Rates for youth tobacco use have skyrocketed, and children – some who are minors – can still buy a pack of cigarettes ‘at the corner of happy and healthy’.  I told Walgreens leadership today that it has to fix its problems cited by the FDA, and that if it truly is committed to improving communities, helping young people, and fighting cancer, then it should stop tobacco sales once and for all.”

 In February, Durbin, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jack Reed (D-RI), sent letters to Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid, and Dollar General urging them to stop selling tobacco products.

Five years ago, after CVS Health announced that they would no longer sell tobacco products, the Senators wrote to Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Walmart to urge each company to follow suit. In once again asking that the stores remove tobacco products from their shelves, the senators cited the nearly half a million tobacco-related deaths, the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among children and teens, and noted that tobacco use among children has increased for the first time in decades.