Five of America's major retailers received a letter yesterday urging them to do one thing: stop selling cigarettes. Written by a group of attorneys general, the letter asked Walmart, Kroger, Rite Aid, Safeway, and Walgreen to follow CVS's lead and pull tobacco products from the shelves entirely, NPR reports. Ohio's Mike DeWine and New York's Eric Schneiderman led the bipartisan charge of attorneys general from 28 states, including Arizona and Illinois. "There is a contradiction in having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services health care needs," they wrote.
They noted that at least 480,000 Americans died from tobacco-related disease in 2013, and tobacco use drains the US economy of $289 billion annually in productivity and health-care costs. The letter didn't threaten legal action, but an insider tells the New York Times that reform or litigation may follow if stores don't play ball. No word from the stores yet, but none of them showed interest in following CVS's lead last month. Walgreen said only that it had a program to help people quit smoking, and Kroger said its adult customers had a right to choose their own products. (See how CVS's move could affect smoking rates.)