- Starting January 1, Schnucks will no longer sell tobacco products, according to a company press release sent to Grocery Dive. As an incentive to help customers stop smoking, Schnucks is offering double Schnucks Rewards points starting October 15 on all of its over-the-counter smoking cessation products.
- The company made the decision in response to data showing that 68% of smokers would like to quit smoking.
- Schnucks does not currently sell e-cigarettes or vaping products and does not plan to start.
Schnucks’ decision to end tobacco sales shows its emphasis on being seen as a health and wellness destination, not just a grocer. Shoppers who are trying to quit smoking may find it easier to shop at Schnucks knowing they won’t be tempted to purchase tobacco products compared to other stores where the items are typically kept near the cash register.
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health found that after CVS stopped selling tobacco in 2014, population and household-level cigarette purchases declined. As more retailers ban the sale of tobacco, the number of tobacco users in the U.S. could continue to decline. In CVS's quarterly earnings report following the ban, the retailer's general merchandise same-store sales dropped 8% due to the ban. But as it aims to be a more healthcare-oriented retailer, CVS is forging stronger relationship with healthcare professionals.
Schnucks is on track to making this happen as well. Schnucks has been focusing on increasing its health and wellness offerings by partnering with gyms to promote exercise as well as food suppliers to help shoppers identify healthy swaps for their meals. It launched a Schnucks Healthy Kids Field Trip program focusing on healthy habit development and included a wellness guide in its Schnucks Rewards app.
Raley’s stopped selling tobacco products at most of its stores in 2015. Walmart, meanwhile, has increased restrictions on tobacco sales. It recently raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. The decision came in response to a letter from the Food and Drug Administration requesting that it prepare a plan to end illegal tobacco sales to minors.
Walgreens, on the other hand, has stated that it has no plans to terminate tobacco product sales, stating that its customers have a choice about whether or not to purchase the products. It reported experiencing negative feedback from customers when it stopped selling cigarettes at some of its store locations.
Roughly 249 billion cigarettes were sold in 2017, representing a 3.5% decrease from the 258 billion sold during 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The agency estimates that the cost of smoking-related illnesses in the U.S. exceeds $300 billion each year, with $170 billion for direct medical care costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity as well as secondhand smoke exposure.