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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


February 18, 2014 - 7:58 am

Democratic senators have expanded their push to get retailers to yank tobacco products off the shelves following the announcement by CVS that it would willingly do so.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jay Rockefeller (D-W-Va.) first sent a letter to Walgreens, Rite Aid and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores asking them to follow CVS’ example.

On Friday, Durbin, Harkin, Reed, Whitehouse, Boxer, Brown, and Blumenthal turned their attention toward Walmart, urging the discount giant to pull tobacco from its shelves.

The senators said they were fixing their sights on Walmart “as the number one retailer of cigarettes in the country.”

“We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products; however, Walmart’s position as the nation’s largest retailer of any kind puts your company in a unique position to contribute to the health and well-being of all Americans,” they wrote in a letter to Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

“We understand that – as your predecessor Lee Scott put it – ‘there are still a tremendous number of [Walmart] customers who smoke.’ However, we are also well aware that three quarters of adult smokers want to quit. In fact, 85 percent of smokers say they have tried to quit at least once. By eliminating tobacco sales in your stores and further promoting cessation products, you can do an extraordinary service for the 100,000,000 customers that shop in your U.S. stores every week and send a critical message to all Americans – and especially children – about the dangers of tobacco use,” the senators continued.

They said a pledge by Walmart would “complement federal efforts” like smoking cessation programs under Obamacare.

“However, we believe private industry has an important role to play in tobacco control and prevention efforts,” they wrote.

“In recognition of the 8.6 million Americans who currently suffer from smoking-caused illnesses, we hope you will join this national effort to end the scourge of tobacco use. We look forward to working with you in a joint effort to promote the health of all Americans.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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I used to smoke. I don't, anymore. COPD doesn't respond well to smoke inhalation. That said: U.S. Congress and all Associated Do-Gooders: get out of the citizens' private lives and go back to what you were hired to do... represent your constituents.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't buy my cigarettes at Walmart. First off, they are actually higher than other places here in the area plus they don't carry my brand at the regular Walmart stores. (The shop where I do buy my cigarettes actually do buy my brand from Sam's Club though or so the owner told me. Go figure!)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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