Walmart is barring anyone under 21 years old from buying tobacco

Getty/Jeff GreenbergYou’ll have to be 21 to buy tobacco at Walmart.

Walmart said Wednesday that it will stop selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under 21 years old.

The change will take effect on July 1 across all US Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.

Walmart is also in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes, which research shows are preferred by minors, the company said.

Walmart made the changes after receiving a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration regarding the sale of tobacco to minors.

“While we have implemented a robust compliance program, we are not satisfied with falling short of our companywide goal of 100% compliance,” John Scudder, Walmart US Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer, said in a blog post announcing the changes. “Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard. So today, we sent a letter back to the FDA outlining additional measures we’re taking to keep tobacco out of the hands of minors.”


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Walmart said it it plans to improve employee training to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors, and crack down harder on employees who fail its “secret shopper” checks that ensure workers are following protocols.

Previously, employees who failed the tests were required to engage in extra training and instruction, but faced no disciplinary action.

That changed last month. Employees who fail the “secret shopper” tests will now be at risk of termination. The company said it plans to conduct 8,000 “secret shopper” checks in 2019.

Walmart’s changes follow a spate of similar changes by various companies and lawmakers aimed at curbing tobacoo usage by minors.

Walgreens announced last month that it would raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, not long after Rite Aid said it would stop selling all e-cigarettes and vaping products.

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