Attorneys general from 28 states asking pharmacies to stop selling tobacco

DENVER — Attorneys General from dozens of states asked the country’s largest retailers to stop selling tobacco products in stores that also have pharmacies.

The request, sent Sunday in letters signed by at least 25 AGs, encouraged Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway and Walmart to follow the lead of CVS Caremark. That pharmacy chain will stop carrying tobacco by Oct. 1, it announced last month.

“Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement.

“There is a contradiction in having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services health care needs,” the AGs’ letters read.

The letters continued to say that dropping tobacco “would effectively bring us full circle, back from the time when a tobacco manufacturer could advertise that ‘more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette’ to a time when cigarettes simply cannot be purchased from a business that sells products prescribed by doctors.”

Colorado’s Attorney General, John Suthers, declined to sign the letter saying he didn’t want to give the impression his office was telling private business how to operate.

The letters do not mention any potential legal action if stores decline to institute a ban, the New York Times reported. But a source told the paper that if the retailers did not act voluntarily, a push for reform or litigation could be a step down the road.