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Md. AG, 27 others ask major retailers to stop selling tobacco products

Tuesday - 3/18/2014, 5:59am  ET

CVS.JPG
Marlboro cigarettes are on display in a CVS store in Pittsburgh. The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1 as it continues to focus more on health care. The move will cost the Woonsocket, R.I., company about $2 billion in annual revenue. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Should other retailers follow the lead of CVS and stop selling tobacco products? What about alcohol? Should they stop selling that too? Why or why not? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP's Facebook Page or use #WTOP on Twitter.

WASHINGTON -- Twenty-eight state attorneys general, including Maryland's Doug Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, have signed letters to major retailers asking them to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

"These are deadly and addictive products being sold at health-care retailers," Gansler says.

In their letters, the attorneys general tell the heads of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger that "tobacco-related disease is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., causing at least 480,000 premature deaths each year."

Gansler charges there's great hypocrisy in stores selling health-care items as well as tobacco products.

"You have pharmaceutical companies that are branding themselves as health-care providers, health-care retailers, at the same time selling deadly and addictive products right next to each other," Gansler says.

Tobacco was once king of both Maryland and Virginia's agricultural economies, but while Maryland is asking big retailers to follow the lead of CVS and remove tobacco products from store shelves, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, is not taking part in the initiative.

"These kinds of multi-state letters are circulated with some frequency amongst attorneys generals on a variety of topics, but this just was not one that Virginia signed on to," says Michael Kelly, director of communications in Herring's office.

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