Phoenix, AZ (Monday, March 17, 2014) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today joined Attorneys General from across the country in an effort to convince the largest pharmacy chains in the nation to stop selling tobacco products. Led by New York and Ohio, the Attorneys General of 28 states and territories have written to the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger, asking them to remove any and all tobacco products from their shelves. In addition, 32 Attorneys General have commended CVS Caremark for its recent decision to stop selling tobacco in its stores.
“Pharmacies and drug stores are increasingly marketing themselves as a source for community health care, yet they continue to sell deadly tobacco products, which sends a mixed message,” said Attorney General Tom Horne. “My office regularly conducts undercover operations that seek out retailers who sell tobacco products to underage minors. This effort alongside my fellow Attorneys General is another way to hinder the availability of highly-addictive nicotine products to our kids.”
Tobacco-related disease is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing over 480,000 deaths in the last year alone – more than AIDS, alcohol, illegal drug use, car accidents and firearm-related deaths combined. Since 1965, over 20 million Americans have died prematurely as a result of smoking. The devastating health effects of these tobacco products have been well documented for over 50 years, since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the Health Consequences of Smoking.
Furthermore, health care costs and productivity losses attributable to smoking cost the nation at least $289 billion each year. Almost 90% of all adult smokers start smoking by 18 years of age.
Attorney General Tom Horne has a long record of protecting kids from underage tobacco use. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) operates a Department of Health Services (DHS) funded program, the Counter Strike Program, which conducts compliance checks statewide to determine if retailers are selling cigarettes and e-cigarettes to minors.
In addition, the AGO supported 2012 legislation banning sales of tobacco products via the Internet, and supported legislation in 2013 to prohibit the sale of e-cigs to minors. The e-cigarette legislation was signed into law and the AGO added electronic cigarettes to the list of products that our youth volunteers ask for when conducting undercover investigations to test the compliance of retailers to determine if they are selling tobacco products to minors.
For more information on the Youth Tobacco Program, please visit our website.