Walmart Raises Minimum Age To Buy Tobacco To 21

The move comes as pressure mounts to raise the age to 21 nationwide

Walmart plans to increase the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 starting July 1, joining a growing list of retailers under pressure from federal regulators to curb sales to minors and boosting their age restrictions as a result.

Walmart told the Food and Drug Administration in a letter Wednesday that it’s going to stop selling fruit and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes altogether as part of a plan to prevent minors from buying tobacco.

The FDA in April threatened to fine Walmart, Kroger, Family Dollarand more than a half dozen convenience store chains for illegally selling tobacco products to minors. Walmart had a violation rate of about 17%, the FDA said at the time.

Walmart said it’s taking a number of corrective actions, including strengthening penalties for stores that fail secret shopper checks, enhancing its data, analytics and systems as well as upgrading its age-verification training by using virtual reality technology.

“We unequivocally acknowledge that even a single sale of tobacco product to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard,” John Scudder, Walmart’s U.S. chief ethics and compliance officer, wrote in the letter Wednesday.

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