Top Stories
Top Stories
Wires

UPDATE 1-Walmart raises U.S. tobacco purchase age to 21 starting in July

Nandita Bose

(Adds details from Walmart's response to the FDA)

WASHINGTON, May 8 (Reuters) - Walmart Inc said on Wednesday it will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 across its U.S. stores starting July 1.

The retailer will also discontinue the sale of fruit-and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems.

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had put 15 national retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Family Dollar Stores, on notice for allegedly selling tobacco products to minors.

Walmart's announcement was a response to the agency's move.

The retailer said the FDA had conducted approximately 12,800 compliance checks involving minors at Walmart stores and Sam's Club locations around the country since 2010. Over that period, Walmart stores passed 93 percent and Sam's Club cleared 99 percent of those checks.

In 2018, the Walmart stores cleared 94 percent of the 2,400 FDA checks and Sam's Club passed 100 percent of its 15 checks.

"While we have implemented a robust compliance program, we are not satisfied with falling short of our companywide goal of 100 percent compliance," John Scudder, U.S. chief ethics and compliance officer, said in a letter to the FDA.

"Even a single sale to a minor is one too many," he said.

In the letter, the world's largest retailer assured the regulator that it will remained focused on improving its compliance rates and any sale-to-minor violation will be dealt with promptly. (Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)