Schnuck Markets plans to stop selling all tobacco and related products starting next year.
Schnucks said Thursday that sales of cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, snuff and other tobacco products will end on Jan. 1. The St. Louis-based grocer will sell through its current tobacco product inventory through the end of the year. The retailer doesn’t sell e-cigarettes or vaping products.
Schnucks operates 115 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.
“Tobacco products are certainly a profitable part of our business, but our company’s mission is to nourish people’s lives,” Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a statement. “Tobacco products directly contradict our core mission, and that means that they simply don’t belong in our stores.”
Beginning Oct. 15 and continuing indefinitely, Schnucks will offer double Schnucks Rewards points on all over-the-counter smoking cessation products. The company said the incentive is designed to support consumers who want to quit tobacco, estimated at 68% of smokers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We respect people’s right to make decisions that are best for them, and while we know this may not sit well with everyone, we believe it’s the right thing to do for the health of our communities and our customers. And that makes it the right decision for our company,” Schnuck commented.
Each day, more than 1,300 people in the United States die from smoking-related illnesses, including more than 100 deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the CDC. World Health Organization research also finds tobacco use as the world’s leading cause of preventable death.
“Unlike many other products, there is simply no moderate amount of tobacco use that is not harmful,” Schnuck added.
According to Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society, tobacco is projected to take 1 billion lives worldwide this century.
“Schnucks’ decision to no longer sell tobacco is a victory for public health, corporate responsibility and customers,” Reedy stated. “Schnucks has historically been a great partner to the American Cancer Society, and this action shows that they, like us, are truly committed to fighting cancer from every angle. There remains an urgent need for all of us to do more.”
A number of grocery retailers have removed tobacco and related products from their stores. According to the website ShopTobaccoFree.org, they include Raley’s, Aldi, The Fresh Market, Kowalski’s Market, Mariano’s, Sprouts Farmers Market, Target, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans Food Markets, Whole Foods Market, Balducci’s, DeCicco Family Markets and Andronico’s Community Markets, among others. National drug chain CVS Pharmacy made headlines in 2014 when announcing it would remove tobacco products from all stores, estimating that the company would lose $2 billion in tobacco and related sales.
In July, Walmart raised the age for buying tobacco products to 21 at all of its U.S. stores, including Sam’s Club, and then in September said it was phasing out e-cigarettes, with plans to stop selling the products once current inventory was sold.
Currently, 18 states — Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington — have enacted or plan measures to lift the tobacco age to 21, along with the District of Columbia and more than 500 localities.