Walmart to stop selling cigarettes in some stores

Tobacco sales subject of years-long internal debate at retail giant

Related video: Walmart Plans To Hire 50,000 Employees By End Of April

Walmart will remove cigarettes from their shelves in some stores following years of internal debate about the sale of tobacco.

The cigarettes will be replaced by self-checkouts, grab-and-go food, and candy in some Walmart locations in California, Florida, Arkansas, and New Mexico, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A company spokesperson told the paper that Walmart won’t end all its tobacco sales and that the company is “always looking at ways to meet our customers’ needs while still operating an efficient business”.

The Journal reported rising tension at Walmart over the sale of cigarettes as the company tries to grow its healthcare business.

CEO Doug McMillon urged other executives to figure out how to end tobacco sales, The Journal reported. Some executives believed that Walmart shouldn’t be “morally policing” their customers and others pushed for self-checkouts as a way to save money on staff.

Walmart has more than 5,000 locations in the US, and the company employs almost 1.6m people.

The company is already unable to sell tobacco in some areas, such as New York City, where local regulations stipulate that tobacco cannot be sold on premises that also house pharmacies. Cigarettes are the top cause of lung cancer.

Target ceased their sales of tobacco in 1996 and CVS took the step in 2014. Walmart already operates one of the largest chains of pharmacies in the US and the company is now trying to expand its healthcare business. Last year, Walmart’s medical department bought telehealth provider MeMD.

The stock price of Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, decreased by 1.9 per cent in pre-market trading on Monday.

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