Walmart to raise tobacco purchasing age to 21

Source: edition, Friday, May 10, 2019

Walmart in the US is raising the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores to 21, with effect from 1 July 2019. The announcement comes just weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration warned several retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, and Walgreens, that they were not fully compliant in preventing sales of tobacco products to minors under 18.

Self-regulatory restrictions on tobacco products in the past have included CVS’ highly-publicized move in 2014 to cease selling any tobacco products, while others, such as Costco, have removed tobacco products from their stores quietly over the course of several years.

As Walmart will leverage the move to further underpin its strategic initiatives around health, brands in health and wellness-oriented categories, especially those with smoking cessation products, should look to harmonize merchandising with Walmart’s clinics and thousands of in-store pharmacies. For marketers, this step is an indicator that Walmart will not hesitate to take progressive moves to preempt regulation in consumer goods and strengthen its brand promise.