ST LOUIS—Schnuck’s last week announced that it will stop selling cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other tobacco products as of Jan. 1. St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. is one of the Midwest’s largest grocery store chains.
According to the Des Moines Register, Schnucks operates 115 stores in the Midwest region in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana Missouri and Wisconsin. The privately held company does not sell e-cigarettes or vaping products.
Schnucks said the move to remove tobacco is “part of a broader effort to focus on wellness and promote healthier choices for customers.” The company is pairing the effort with other benefits, including a partnership with workout centers to encourage physical activity, as well as the launch of a program that teaches life skills and health habits to children. The store’s app also allows customers to view nutritional information.
“Tobacco products are certainly a profitable part of our business, but our company’s mission is to nourish people’s lives,” Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a statement. “Tobacco products directly contradict our core mission and that means that they simply don’t belong in our stores.”
Most Schnucks stores are in Missouri, where about 21% of adults smoke. That’s one of the nation’s highest smoking rates. Missouri also has the nation’s lowest tobacco tax rates at 17 cents per pack of cigarettes.
Other chains have stopped selling tobacco products in recent years, including CVS. Earlier this year, Walmart announced that it was raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to age 21 from 18.