FDA Calls Out More Than a Half Dozen C-store Chains for Illegally Selling Tobacco Products to Minors

cigarette sales

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited several convenience stores and other retailers for selling tobacco products to underage consumers.

In letters sent on April 5, the agency called out high rates of violations at several c-store chains, including 7-Eleven Inc., BP plc, Casey's General Stores Inc., Chevron Corp., CITGO, Exxon, Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), Shell and Sunoco, according to CNBC.

The FDA also sent similar letters to Walmart, Kroger and Family Dollar.

The agency gave the retailers 30 days to submit a detailed plan describing how they will mitigate illegal tobacco sales to minors.

"Retailers in particular are on the front lines of these efforts to reduce the health consequences of tobacco use and nicotine dependence," the agency said. "Because tobacco use is almost always initiated and established during adolescence, early intervention — including making sure tobacco products aren't being sold to minors — is critical."

The FDA began inspections to root out youth tobacco sales in 2010. According to the news report, it found violations at as few as 15 percent of the Casey's General Store locations that were inspected to as many as 41 percent of the MPC gas stations that were checked during inspections. 

In addition, Walmart had a violation rate of about 17 percent, 7-Eleven had a rate of about 25 percent, and BP and CITGO both had violation rates of 35 percent. 

"This violative history is disturbing and cannot possibly come as a surprise to corporate leadership," the FDA told each company.

In February, the agency filed complaints seeking No-Tobacco-Sale Orders (NTSO) against select locations of Circle K Stores Inc. and Walgreens for repeated violations on the sale and distribution of tobacco products, including cigars and menthol cigarettes to minors, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

The NTSO action against a Miami Walgreens outlet follows the issuance of more than 1,550 warning letters and 240 civil money penalty actions against Walgreens stores nationwide for unlawful tobacco product sales to minors. However, it was the first NTSO action taken against a Walgreens store.

While the NTSO action against Circle K was not its first, it marks the first time the agency initiated an NTSO complaint for the sale of deemed products — cigars — to minors. Since 2010, the FDA has issued more than 1,045 warning letters and 205 civil money penalty actions to retailers doing business as Circle K for sales to minors.