Walgreens’ Complicated Relationship with Wellness

Every now and then I pop into a Walgreens to pick up some cotton balls and a bottle of hand soap. Maybe if the TRESemmè is on sale, I’ll grab a bottle of the volumizing formula. Besides an endless array of assorted candies and Hostess snacks, Walgreens serves my personal care purposes – that’s what it’s there for.

Ironically, the Food and Drug Administration shared on Monday that it accused several retailers, including Walgreens, Walmart, and several gas station chains of selling tobacco products to minors. These products include cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes.

According to the report, the highest rates of illegal tobacco sales in the investigation happen at between 35-44% of locations belonging to eight different gas station chains, while Walmart, Walgreens, Family Dollar, Kroger, and Circle K showed illegal sales in 15-24% of the stores inspected in the investigation. 7-Eleven stores showed illegal tobacco sales in 25-44% of its stores.

With a focus on how e-cigarettes are becoming a youth epidemic, the FDA highlighted the need to take the necessary measures to prevent youth from obtaining and using tobacco products that are addictive and harmful.

The FDA also responded to the results of their investigation by writing a letter to the President of Operations at Walgreen Co., Richard Ashworth. The letter shared the dangerously high rates of illegal tobacco sales at Walgreens stores, the highest of any pharmacy, and asked for a meeting to discuss necessary steps the company should take to prevent these violations in the future.

Walgreens is facing 1,800 violations of this nature, including one the FDA cited where a minor was able to purchase a box of Newport cigarettes. Given the size of the Walgreens Corporation, it can be instrumental in convincing youth to ditch tobacco products, throwing JUUL out of style and promoting wellness.

Walgreens may be looking at a major overhaul of its sales procedures and it can count on the FDA to keep watch.