Maryland leaders urge pharmacies to ban selling of tobacco products

BALTIMORE - Attorney General Doug Gansler, along with law officials in 27 other states, are urging the country's biggest pharmacy chains  to stop selling tobacco products.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger were asked to follow the example set by CVS when it announced last month that it would remove all tobacco products from store shelves by the fall of 2014.

For Gansler, who is running for governor, the move makes sense.

“Drug stores and pharmacies that sell tobacco are sending mixed messages, especially to our children," he said. 

Health problems related to smoking cost the nation at least $289 billion each year, according to Gansler. Almost 90% of all adult smokers start smoking by 18 years of age. 

Maryland and other states sued the major tobacco companies for the harm and the associated health care costs caused by their products.

To resolve these lawsuits, the states entered into the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the most significant public health agreement of our time. Maryland still receives over $125 million a year from that settlement.

 

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