Walgreens Still Not Kicking Cigarette Habit, But Makes Some Products Less Visible

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Three years after Walgreens said it would evaluate whether or not to continue selling cigarettes, and a year after it said it needed a bit more time to come to a resolution, shareholders for the drugstore chain are questioning the company’s choice to continue selling these cancer-causing products.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the future of cigarette sales at Walgreens inevitably came up during the company’s annual shareholders meeting this week, with executives noting they take the decision “very seriously.”

In fact, the company says that it could change the tobacco sales policy at any time.

“We’ve reviewed this on a regular basis and it’s always up for a review and decision down the road,” James Skinner, Walgreens Boots Alliance executive chairman, said, as reported by the Tribune. “Nothing is final.”

While the company will continue to sell the products for the foreseeable future, it has taken steps to see if policy changes would hurt the company’s bottomline.

A spokesperson for the company tells the Tribune that dozens of stores began reducing the visibility of the products, using the space to showcase products that help people stop smoking.

Shareholders, as well as legislators and public health advocates, have called on Walgreens to ditch tobacco products, arguing that it goes against the company’s commitment to help people live healthy live.

Rival CVS announced nearly three years ago that it would stop selling the products, admitting at the time that it could lose $2 billion as a result. However, the company’s stock quickly rebounded and, despite some volatility,  has remained above the pre-tobacco ban price ever since.