ECU research: Chain pharmacies too often sell tobacco products to minors

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) Some nationwide pharmacy chains aren't doing enough to stop sales of tobacco products to minors, according to research by an East Carolina University professor.

Researchers at ECU and Stanford University looked at U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of tobacco sales to minors.

The study says during the last 5-years, chains like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, failed nearly 8-percent of those FDA inspections.

Dr Joseph Lee is the ECU professor who partnered with Stanford University professors to complete the study. He says, "Across the country they contract with states and states send in 16 and 17-year-old's to try and buy tobacco products."

Another finding was that Walgreens was more likely to sell tobacco to minors than other chains.

In a statement via email to WITN, a Walgreens spokesman says the company, "Take(s) this matter very seriously and have taken a number of steps over the past several years to help address the important issue of tobacco sales to minors."

Walgrens goes on to say it plans to require identification for everyone buying tobacco products, regardless of age, by early October.

CVS stopped selling tobacco products in 2014 and lee hopes this makes other chains reconsider their corporate policies.

Lee says, "It's really important for pharmacies, especially because they're in the business of selling health, to make sure they're doing everything possible to keep addictive tobacco products out of the hands of kids."