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Rite Aid to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes, Citing Surge in Young Users

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Rite Aid, one of many nation’s greatest pharmacy chains, will cease promoting e-cigarettes and vaping merchandise due to concern that they’re fueling tobacco use amongst center and highschool college students throughout the United States.

Rite Aid stated Thursday that it will take away the merchandise from its greater than 2,400 shops over the subsequent 90 days. The chain will proceed to promote common tobacco merchandise, a choice that some public well being advocates criticized.

“We’re concerned about some of the alarming statistics regarding the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products by children and teens,” Bryan Everett, the chain’s chief working officer, stated on an earnings name. He added that “while many feel these products are beneficial to those of legal age who are trying to quit the use of tobacco,” the corporate had determined to cease promoting them due to their rising recognition with younger folks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that using tobacco merchandise, a class that features e-cigarettes and vaping merchandise, jumped 38 % final yr amongst highschool college students and 29 % amongst center college college students. The surge, pushed by the expansion of e-cigarettes, countered the declining use of such merchandise amongst younger folks in earlier years, the C.D.C. discovered.

Public well being specialists warn that whereas teenage smoking stays at document lows, that might be reversed if vaping and e-cigarettes find yourself main a brand new era to conventional tobacco merchandise.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration moved to limit the gross sales of flavored e-cigarettes, that are significantly enticing to younger folks. The F.D.A. has directed retailers to put e-cigarette merchandise in areas that aren’t accessible to folks underneath age 18.

The company recognized Walgreens shops this yr as a high violator of restrictions in opposition to promoting tobacco merchandise to minors. The F.D.A. has sought a gathering with the corporate’s management to deal with the issue.

Walgreens stated in an emailed assertion on Friday that it will “welcome the opportunity to meet with the commissioner of food and drugs to discuss all of the steps we are taking regarding this important issue.” The chain stated it prohibited the sale of tobacco merchandise to minors and instantly fired staff who violated the ban.

The F.D.A. additionally issued letters this month to a dozen retailers, together with Walmart and Family Dollar, asking them to submit plans inside 30 days that described how they deliberate to deal with and mitigate gross sales of tobacco merchandise to minors. Rite Aid and Walgreens weren’t despatched letters.

Despite the most recent transfer by Rite Aid, public well being advocates weren’t happy to listen to the chain would proceed to promote conventional tobacco merchandise. They stated the corporate ought to observe the instance set by CVS, which stopped promoting tobacco altogether in 2014 and subsequently branded itself as a well being care large. CVS was the primary main pharmacy chain to cease promoting tobacco, which had introduced in $2 billion in gross sales a yr.

“There is a fundamental conflict between their stated mission of improving health and wellness and selling tobacco products, which are the leading cause of preventable death,” stated Vince Willmore, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Pharmacies cannot have it both ways. Other drugstores should follow CVS’s lead and end tobacco sales once and for all.”

Rite Aid stated in a press release that lots of its prospects nonetheless wished to have the ability to purchase conventional tobacco merchandise, however that it had decreased the visibility of these gadgets in its shops in recent times. The firm added that it had additionally expanded its providing of smoking cessation merchandise and educated its pharmacists in a program that may assist prospects stop smoking.

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