The Los Angeles Times this morning reports that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a planned meeting with senior executives at Walgreens Boots Alliance “to discuss what they said was a pattern of illegal tobacco sales to minors at the pharmacy giant’s stores.” FDA says that almost a quarter of all the Walgreens stores it inspected “had illegally sold tobacco products to minors,” and one store in Miami will not be allowed to sell tobacco products for 30 days.

“Walgreens is currently the top violator among pharmacies that sell tobacco products,” FDA said in a statement, adding that it “is considering additional enforcement action against Walgreens.”

According to the Times, “The FDA inspected 6,350 Walgreens stores, agency spokesman Michael Felberbaum said. He said Walgreens has received more than 1,550 warning letters from the FDA and been hit with 240 financial penalties for selling tobacco to minors since 2010.”

Walgreens said that it takes the issue “very seriously” and looks forward to meeting with FDA.

KC's View: Not seriously enough, in my view. Not nearly seriously enough. In fact, this kind of record of violations suggests that the special circle of hell reserved for tobacco company executives may have to be widened out a bit to accept some new residents.

I cannot help but think that the irony here is that Walgreens is supposed to be in the health care business, and yet it is selling stuff that is designed to addict and kill people. This illustrates vividly to me why it made so much sense for CVS to get out of the tobacco business … it is on-brand, and prevents the kind of messaging dissonance that stories like this create.