With $572 billion in sales last year and an almost 13% retail market share, Walmart is once again the world’s biggest retailer. But in 2022, when most other retailers are transitioning into healthy living and healthy lifestyle products, we ask, “does Walmart sell cigarettes?”.
For Walmart selling cigarettes is a double-edged sword. Obviously, there is enormous profit to be made from the sale of tobacco products but is it worth the customer backlash?
In this article, we will dig into whether the retail giant still sells cigarettes, its reasons for doing (or not doing) so, and if it sells other tobacco products also.
Cigarette sales in the USA
In 2021, the United States, there was spending $95 billion on cigarettes and tobacco products. While the vast majority of that happened at gas stations and convenience stores, it was reported that just over $13 billion was at retailers.
Does Walmart sell cigarettes in 2023?
Firstly, it is an interesting fact that in 1994 Walmart in Canada voluntarily ceased to sell cigarettes (more about that later). It is important to note that Walmart is a huge company. Walmart operates over 10,000 stores in 24 different countries around the world.
For this article’s purposes, we will focus mainly on the United States. So, we will be asking, “does Walmart sell cigarettes in 2023 in the United States?”.
You may be surprised to find out that today, when shoppers and other retailers are looking toward health and wellness, Walmart still sells cigarettes and other tobacco products. Although even this retail heavyweight is slowly making steps toward ending tobacco sales.
In 2019 Walmart announced that it was stopping the sale of vaping products and e-cigarettes. At the time, they put this down to increased federal, state, and local laws regarding the sale of this type of product.
In March of this year, Walmart announced that it would end cigarette sales in some of its nearly 5000 United States stores.
However, this is far from a complete end to cigarette sales as it will only happen at certain shops and states. The states that will be affected are Kansas, California, Florida, and New Mexico.
In the stores that are ending the sale of tobacco products, it is already possible to see the changes that have been made.
The company has introduced more product displays and more self-checkout aisles in place of the old tobacco displays.
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Why does Walmart still sell cigarettes in 2023?
Why does Walmart continue when many retailers are ending or have already ended the sale of cigarettes? In 1970 Walmart became a publicly traded company, which means that the company is effectively run by the shareholders.
Like any other substantial multinational public company, shareholders are looking for two things. These two things are innovation and, above all else, profits.
This makes it very difficult for anybody running the company to remove such a significant revenue generator for fear of losing their job.
What tobacco products does Walmart sell?
Walmart sells an extensive range of tobacco products, although it varies from state to state and store to store. As we have mentioned previously, the company stopped selling vape and e-cigarette products in 2019.
As of today, on top of cigarettes, it is still possible to buy a small range of cigars, although these are certainly not high quality.
At a limited number of outlets, it is also possible to buy smokeless, rolling, pipe, and occasionally chewing tobacco.
For anybody hoping to give up smoking Walmart has a dedicated quit smoking section. In this section, you can find a wide range of nicotine replacement products and medicines, including nicotine lozenges, nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and self-help books. Customers are required to provide a photo ID and proof of age when purchasing nicotine replacement products.
Who can buy cigarettes in the United States?
In the United States, the law states that anybody buying tobacco products at a retailer, including Walmart, must provide an ID with proof of age.
The type of ID required varies, but a driver’s license, military ID, or passport should be enough. No student ID cards are accepted.
In December 2019, the president of the United States signed an amendment to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act that effectively raised the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 years old.
The legal age had previously been 18. Six months earlier, Walmart had already increased the age limit for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years old to match the age already required in some states.
This law means that it is illegal for anybody under the age of 21 to buy cigarettes or any other type of tobacco product in the USA.
Does Walmart sell cigarettes in Canada?
Since 1994 the sale of tobacco products in the province of Ontario, Canada, has been banned. As a direct result, Walmart, many of whose stores contained pharmacies, decided to stop selling tobacco products in all of their Canadian stores.
The future and other retailers
Although, at the moment, Walmart shows no signs that it is considering a complete withdrawal from cigarette sales in the United States, who knows what the future may hold? Already some states make it much more challenging to sell cigarettes.
Some states, such as San Francisco, already have banned the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in pharmacies. In parts of California and Massachusetts, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is completely prohibited.
This has led to a huge decline in the number of smokers in the USA. In 2005 21% of the United States population smoked, today that stands at 12.5%
As more and more states introduce new laws making it harder to sell tobacco products, it seems increasingly likely that companies such as Walmart will decide they are better off ceasing to sell tobacco products completely.
Some companies have already bitten the bullet and completely stopped selling tobacco products. Companies such as CVS and Target stopped selling cigarettes in 1994 and 1996 respectively, and both have seen an increase in sales and profits.
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The wellness trend
Everybody is responsible for considering their health and wellbeing, making good choices, and taking a proactive approach to health. It is essential to be aware of the risks involved with specific actions and, if necessary to take preventative measures.
Today consumers are more informed than they have ever been before. People are interested in body health and generally want to live longer. Nearly everybody you speak to participates in some kind of physical exercise and watches what they eat. Considering things like cancer, cardiovascular health, and general body health today could make for a brighter tomorrow.
As this trend becomes more popular big retailers such as Walmart and Target are using it to their advantage by introducing new healthy living product ranges. Both of these stores have introduced foods, cleaning products, and personal care products for wellness-conscious people.
So does Walmart sell cigarettes? Now we know that right now Walmart still sells cigarettes. But in an ever-changing consumer market, who knows what tomorrow will bring? Walmart is already trialing not selling cigarettes in certain stores in certain states.
If those trials are successful and the company does not lose money, it may well be in their interest to drop cigarettes and tobacco products in all stores.
Complete removal of cigarettes and tobacco products from Walmart could actually work out in their favor. Perhaps it would bring in a new clientele with disposable income looking to spend money on healthy wellness-inspired products.
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I am Alexi Brains, and I am the head writer, editor, and co-founder of FoodItems.org