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Schnucks To Stop Selling Tobacco Products By January 2020

Bills sponsored by Ald. Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, would boost the age to purchase tobacco products in the city to 21
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Grocer Schnucks will stop selling tobacco products on Jan. 1, 2020.

Grocery chain Schnucks announced Thursday it will stop selling tobacco products beginning Jan. 1. The company plans to sell existing inventory of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and similar products through the end of the year.

Spokesman Paul Simon said the announcement falls in line with the Maryland Heights-based company’s increasing focus on health and wellness.

“They are a profitable part of our business, but our company’s mission is to nourish people's lives, and tobacco products directly contradict that mission,” he said. “And that means we decided they simply didn’t belong in our stores.”

Simon declined to disclose how much revenue the private company makes from those products.

Starting Oct. 15, the grocer will also begin offering extra reward points on over-the-counter smoking-cessation products.

In 2018, more than 20% of adults in Missouri smoked tobacco products, according to the United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings survey. That’s above the national average of 17%.

In a statement, CEO Todd Schnuck said he knows the decision won’t sit well with everyone, but he believes it’s the right thing to do. 

“Unlike many other products, there is simply no moderate amount of tobacco use that is not harmful,” he said.

The company, which has about 80 stores in the St. Louis region, made the announcement to employees earlier in the day during a semi-annual meeting of store managers. 

Follow Corinne on Twitter:@corinnesusan

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.