Walgreens will raise age for tobacco sales to 21 on Sept. 1

Walgreens has decided to raise its minimum age for tobacco sales several weeks after a top federal official chastised the drugstore chain for violating laws restricting access to cigarettes and other tobacco products,” starting Sept. 1, The Associated Press reports. The chain has stores in 51 Kentucky cities and towns.

In March, before he resigned as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb called Walgreens a top violator of sales restrictions among pharmacies that sell tobacco products. CVS Health Corp.stopped selling them several years ago.

The American Lung Association says most states have set a minimum legal age of 18 to buy tobacco products, but a dozen have raised that to 21. Several have done so recently at the request of Altria Corp., the nation’s largest tobacco company, which recently bought 35 percent of Juul Labs, which makes the most popular electronic cigarette. Altria sees a higher legal age as a way to curb the push for more regulation of e-cigarettes.

The state Senate rebuffed Altria’s effort in Kentucky, but in the U.S. Senate, “Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he plans to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age to 21 nationally,” AP notes. “The Kentucky Republican called the legislation a top priority.” Like most lobbying interests, Altria is a major giver to McConnell’s political causes.

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