Pharmacy chains cited for selling e-cigs to minors

September 15, 2016

Select Walgreens, Rite Aid, and other chain drugstores were among those cited by the FDA for selling e-cigarettes, e-liquid, and cigars to minors.

Select Walgreens, Rite Aid, and other chain drugstores were among those cited by the FDA for selling e-cigarettes, e-liquid, and cigars to minors.

Shutterstock/NeydStockFDA issued warning letters to 55 tobacco retailers in mid-September, a month after the agency began enforcing new federal regulations making it illegal to sell e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, and other newly-regulated tobacco products to anyone under age 18 in person or online.  Retailers are required to check the photo IDs of anyone under age 27.

Three Walgreens stores in three different states, one Rite Aid store in Richland, Wash., and a Safeway store in Des Moines, Wash., were among the retailers sent warning letters in the sweeping enforcement action. Other stores that were issued warning letters include 7-Eleven, Circle K, Family Dollar, and a host of vape/ e-cigarette shops.

“We’re helping protect the health of America’s youth by enforcing restrictions that make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors – including e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and cigars. Retailers play a vital role in keeping harmful and addictive tobacco products out of the hands of children and we urge them to take that responsibility seriously,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “It’s clear from these initial compliance checks that there’s a need for strong federal enforcement of these important youth access restrictions.”

During compliance checks at major national retail chains, tobacco specialty stores, and online retailers, minors were able to purchase some of these newly-regulated tobacco products in a variety of youth-appealing flavors, including bubble gum, cotton candy, and gummy bear.

 

Before the final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, and pipe tobacco, there was no federal prohibition on the sale of these products to children.

As a result, e-cigarette use among high school students increased by more than 900% between 2011 and 2015, and hookah use also increased significantly during this time, according to the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, high school boys smoked cigars at about the same rate as cigarettes.