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Should Wal-Mart sell cigarettes?

Posted by: Aili McConnon on June 10, 2009

During Wal-Mart’s recent annual shareholders’ meeting, vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said the retail giant might stop selling tobacco products in its stores, according to Convenience Store News. Why? Selling cigarettes conflicts with Wal-Mart’s healthier, friendlier and greener image, which it has been working hard to cultivate in the past few years.

Ditching cigarettes may be a smart move for another reason too. On April 1st, the federal excise tax increased by 61 cents to $1.01 a pack. The tax is expected to reduce smoking and decrease cigarette sales. Approximately 21% of the adult population or 64 million Americans smoke, according to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control.

Do you think selling tobacco hurts Wal-Mart’s image? Is it smart strategy to sacrifice potential sales for the sake of corporate image?

Reader Comments

Denise Lee Yohn

June 10, 2009 7:49 PM

i certainly hope walmart's social responsibility efforts these last few years haven't been about "image" -- rather, i believe/would like to believe they've been aggressively pursuing green practices and other social causes because of their corporate values. in my mind, there's a big difference -- image = how people perceive you; values = what you believe.

the reason why walmart should ban tobacco products is because they believe they are unhealthy and a danger to society -- if this is the basis for their decision, it's not a sacrifice.


June 12, 2009 12:12 PM

Will Walmart also stop selling guns? how about pocket knives? fishing poles?

I don't smoke, but this seems silly to me.


June 13, 2009 7:06 AM

The demand for cigarettes is inelastic for many people. I don't think the increasing of tobacco's price will reduce the sale of tobacco a lot.

Stop selling tobacco in Wal-Mart may make it look good but it is not an effective way to control the population of smokers.


September 9, 2009 4:29 PM

WalMart should stop being hypocrites, saying they are family-friendly, while continuing to sell a lethal product with no safe use. And J, you are wrong - increasing tobacco's price DOES reduce the sale of tobacco a lot. And less outlets means less smokers and more money for taxpayers by not having to support the related diseases.


December 30, 2009 10:30 AM

People get over it. Walmart should sell tabacco or whatever will keep them in business. For those who don't like to smoke then don't buy them but just because you don't like them doesn't mean that other people can't enjoy them. Is alcohol illegal, it is well known that alcohol kill more people then tabacco so get over and this is from a none smoker.

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