WEST HOLLYWOOD—Walgreens and Rite Aid stores located in West Hollywood announced changes to their tobacco policies. Tobacco products will no longer be sold to anyone under the age of 21 at Walgreens, starting on September 1, 2019. Rite Aid is planning to implement the policy by July 22, 2019.

Rite Aid Chief Operating Officer Bryan Everett stated that “Raising the age for purchasing tobacco products is an important step in our efforts to ensure that these products do not fall into the hands of children and teens.”

According to the CDC, the State Fact Sheets reveal that in California, about 13.6 percent of high schoolers admitted to using tobacco products and e-cigarettes. As of 2017, about 34 million adults smoked cigarettes, and nearly 90 percent of smokers tried their first smoke by age 18.

“We’ve seen positive results from other recent efforts to strengthen our policies related to tobacco sales, and believe this next step can be even more impactful to reduce its use among teens and young adults,” said Walgreens President of Operations Richard Ashworth.

Both companies will implement policies that require clerks to ask for an ID on all purchases of age-restricted items such as tobacco and alcohol.

The CDC reported that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. A dozen states have already raised the minimum buying age and a handful of others, including California, which are implementing similar changes.

According to the CDC, nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18. For those looking for help to quit smoking visit https://smokefree.gov/ or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).