Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, will increase the minimum age to buy tobacco products, marking a big moment in the fight against teen nicotine addiction.
The company announced Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco or e-cigarettes products to anyone under the age of 21 in the United States. The changes will take effect July 1 at all American Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
The company will stop selling sweet-flavored e-cigarettes, which have become popular among teenagers.
The policy shift comes after Walmart () received a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration for not fully prohibiting kids under 18 from buying tobacco products at its stores.
“While we have implemented a robust compliance program, we are not satisfied with falling short of our company-wide goal of 100% compliance,” the company wrote. “Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard.”
In March, the FDA warned several retailers, including Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens, that they were violating rules against selling tobacco products to minors. The agency also labeled the use of e-cigarettes by young people as an “epidemic.”
In response, Walgreens () said that its stores will no longer sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 starting September 1.
The FDA stipulates that tobacco and e-cigarettes may only be sold to people 18 years or older. But several states have raised the age for legal sales to 21, including Illinois, Washington, Hawaii and California.