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Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer: Tobacco sales under ‘real scrutiny’ as drugstore chain steps up health-care focus

A particular person enters a Walgreens store in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer said the drugstore is getting a hard appear at no matter if it will proceed to market cigarettes and tobacco products as it measures up its aim on overall health care.

“We are thinking about what is actually future in our outlets,” she claimed in an interview with CNBC’s Bertha Coombs that aired Thursday. “And how do we seriously job a nutritious-for-you profile when you enter our merchants? Tobacco is a single of people regions that’s below authentic scrutiny correct now. And so you can expect to see far more to come in that spot.”

Walgreens beat Wall Street’s anticipations on Thursday for fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, as it bought a elevate from Covid-19 vaccinations. Revenue in the three-month time period mirrored the power of health and fitness and wellness-associated merchandise, such as at-household Covid assessments, vitamins and in excess of-the-counter medicines for cough, chilly and flu.

Equivalent retail revenue rose 6.2% in the fourth quarter in comparison with the yr-ago period. That amplified to 7.2% when the firm excluded product sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

For years, Walgreens has been beneath scrutiny from some traders and community wellness officials for providing the merchandise. Walgreens has scaled back tobacco-relevant products, these kinds of as stopping profits of e-cigarettes. It also lifted the tobacco purchasing age to 21 in 2019 immediately after the Foodstuff and Drug Administration alleged that the drugstore chain was marketing to minors.

Nonetheless its significant competitor presently took tobacco off cabinets. CVS Health and fitness stopped marketing cigarettes and similar products in 2014, saying it did not align with the company’s wellbeing-care mission.

The Food and drug administration has taken a harder stance on e-cigarettes, amid worries that vaping is primary to a increase in tobacco use between teenagers — specially with flavors like sweet, fruit and mint. Early this week, it permitted an e-cigarette manufacturer for sale in the U.S., saying it could profit some adult people who smoke who swap merchandise. Even so, it did not approve some of the company’s flavored items.

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