St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. will no longer sell any tobacco products in its grocery stores, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The new policy includes cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and snuff, as well as e-cigarettes and vaping products, which the retailer already doesn't sell. Schnucks will sell through its existing inventory through the end of the year.
Starting Oct. 15 and continuing indefinitely, Schnucks will offer double Schnucks Rewards points on all over-the-counter smoking cessation products, an effort by the retailers to support 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 and CEO Todd Schnuck. “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.”
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world.
“Tobacco is poised to take 1 billion lives worldwide this century, so Schnucks’ decision to no longer sell tobacco is a victory for public health, corporate responsibility and customers,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society. “Schnucks has historically been a great partner to the American Cancer Society, and this action shows that they, like us, are truly committed to fighting cancer from every angle. There remains an urgent need for all of us to do more.”
Schnucks’ move comes as the company is increasing its focus on wellness and promoting healthier choices. In the past year, the company created a partnership with gyms to encourage increased physical activity and partnered with food suppliers to highlight simple swaps to make mealtime healthier; teamed with Pink Ribbon Girls, a nonprofit that delivers healthy free meals and other services to women who are newly diagnosed with breast and gynecological cancers; launched its Schnucks Healthy Kids Field Trip program at 69 stores; expanded its in-store “Free Fruit for Kids” program to all 115 of the company’s locations; and introduced a wellness guide within its Schnucks Rewards app, allowing customers to view nutritional information and labels, as well as attributes such as heart-smart, gluten-free, high protein and organic.
Schnucks plans to roll out additional health-and-wellness initiatives in the coming months and throughout 2020.