Kroger, Walmart Face Possible FDA Fines for Tobacco Sales to Minors

Kroger, Walmart Face Possible FDA Fines for Tobacco Sales to Minors
Among its efforts to lower teenagers' use of tobacco products, the FDA has written to retailers such as Kroger and Walmart about selling these items to minors

The Food and Drug Administration has sent letters to The Kroger Co., Walmart Inc., Family Dollar and several convenience store chains regarding the sale of tobacco products to minors.

In the April 5 letters, which were addressed to the companies' CEOs, the FDA requested that the companies submit plans of action within 30 days, outlining how they’ll address and mitigate the illegal sales.

Kroger, Walmart and Family Dollar were identified by the agency as being among “several national retail chains, wither corporate-owned or franchised, who have high rates of violative inspections, with more than 15 percent of stores inspected having illegally sold tobacco products to minors since the inception of the FDA’s retailer compliance check inspection program in 2010.”

While Cincinnati-based Kroger and Charlotte, N.C.-based Family Dollar had violation rates of about 23 percent, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart’s was around 17 percent, according to the letters.

“This violative history is disturbing and cannot possible come as a surprise to corporate leadership,” the letters continued. “In addition to issuing a warning letter, civil money penalty, or no-tobacco-sale order, as applicable, to violating retailers, [the] FDA also makes retailer compliance check results publicly available in a searchable database that can be accessed by any members of the public, including by the corporate management of retailers themselves.”

The agency has introduced a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan in an effort to dissuade teenagers from smoking.

Walmart and Kroger are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of top grocers in the United States.

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