ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Schnucks will stop selling tobacco products beginning January 1, 2020, and it's possible sales may end even sooner.
They will be selling through their existing inventory through the end of the year.
The decision impacts all 115 stores in five states. Company officials say they’ll lose money but won’t say how much
The supermarket chain says that they want to support the 68 percent of smokers who want to quit tobacco.
“Tobacco products are certainly a profitable part of our business, but our company’s mission is to nourish people’s lives,” said Schnucks Chairman & CEO Todd Schnuck in a statement. “Tobacco products directly contradict our core mission and that means that they simply don’t belong in our stores. We respect people’s right to make decisions that are best for them, and while we know this may not sit well with everyone, we believe it’s the right thing to do for the health of our communities, and our customers and that makes it the right decision for our company.”
More than 1,300 people in the United States die every day due to smoking-related illnesses. That includes more than 100 deaths per day that are a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Customers who smoke said Schnucks' decision is fine with them.
“I don’t buy them the grocery store, I buy them from the gas station,” said shopper Mellahn Douglas.
The American Lung Association released a statement applauding Schnucks.
“We celebrate the bold decision of Schnucks to remove tobacco products. Their example fosters a culture that discourages tobacco use and addresses its health impacts.”
But will that cut down on smoking? The jury is still out.
“I don’t think it really makes a difference,” said smoker Jennifer Miller.
Smoker John Welther added: "If it’s no readily available, easily available; hopefully, kids won’t start smoking.”
To encourage folks who want to quit smoking, Schnucks is doubling the bonus points on each over the counter cessation product sold.