Sustainable Business

And the crowd goes wild

One of our retail partners just announced this fabulous news:

Wegmans snuffs out smoke sales

Supermarket retailer Wegmans will stop selling tobacco products as of Feb. 10, the company announced Friday.

“As a company, we respect a person’s right to smoke, but we also understand the destructive role smoking plays in health,” Chief Executive Danny Wegman said.

Wegmans spokeswoman Joe Natale said tobacco is a profitable area of business but would not disclose specific sales figures.

The company also plans to offer a smoking-cessation programs to employees who want to quit.

Tobacco sales accounted for more than $5 billion in sales for grocery stores in 2006, according to Progressive Grocer’s annual consumer expenditure study.

No other major grocery chain has banned tobacco sales, according to Kathleen Thompson of the Food Marketing Institute in Washington, though she said some smaller grocery stores may have similar policies.

The news was praised by health advocacy groups, such as the American Lung Association of New York, where the Rochester chain has its headquarters.

“The American Lung Association commends Wegmans for its commitment to public health and for placing the well-being of its customers above profit by halting sales of cigarettes,” the group said.

Herb Sorenson, global scientific director of Shopper Insights for TNS North America, said the move is more feasible for a retailer like Wegmans than a convenience store. But even major grocery chains have to contend with most shoppers making quick trips of one to five items, often including tobacco.

“Still, I do think that it’s obvious that it’s a trend that’s not going away,” Sorensen said, noting recent measures banning cigarettes in restaurants and public places, even in Europe

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