Walgreens tests tobacco-free stores but won't stop all tobacco sales

After facing pressure from federal regulators, Walgreens Boots Alliance is piloting several tobacco-free stores in the U.S., but doesn't plan to halt sales entirely, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Walgreens sells tobacco products, including cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, in most of its 9,600 U.S. stores, but last year launched one tobacco-free test store in Deerfield, Ill., and 17 stores in Gainesville, Fla.

The pharmacy chain also doesn't sell cigarettes in Massachusetts, New York City and San Francisco, which have banned pharmacies from selling them.

"The safety of our patients is very important, but we also have to do what our customers are requiring us to do," Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina told the WSJ. "We see that when we don’t sell tobacco, we have a lot of [negative] reactions."

The issue of potentially halting tobacco products came up at Walgreens' annual shareholder meeting after the FDA called out the company for selling tobacco products to minors. A group of U.S. senators also sent Walgreens a letter urging it to stop selling tobacco products.

Walgreens rival CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products in 2014.

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