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Attorneys general call on top U.S. retailers to drop tobacco products

Students pose for pictures with "big cigarette models" during a campaign ahead of the World No Tobacco Day, at a primary school in Handan, H
Students pose for pictures with "big cigarette models" during a campaign ahead of the World No Tobacco Day, at a primary school in Handan, H

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - A group of 28 U.S. attorneys general is urging chief executive officers of five major retailers, including Walmart, to stop selling tobacco products, saying it is contradictory to carry such items in stores that also provide health care services.

The companies receiving a letter on Sunday from the group were Wal-Mart Stores Inc, supermarket operators Kroger Co, Safeway Inc, which operate pharmacies, and drugstore chains Walgreen Co and Rite Aid Corp.

"Pharmacies and drug stores, which increasingly market themselves as a source for community health care, send a mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement on Monday.

None of the retailers immediately responded to a request for comment.

Schneiderman and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine led a group of 28 states and territories, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Puerto Rico and Guam calling for the change.

Last month, CVS Caremark Corp, which runs the No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain after Walgreen, said it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October 1, making it the first national drugstore chain in the United States to take cigarettes off the shelves.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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