President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Mr. Matthew Myers stated, "Walgreens should recognize that there is a fundamental conflict between their mission as a health care provider and the sale of tobacco products, which are the number one cause of preventable death". The Walgreens Boots Alliance, the United Kingdom division of the company, made the announcement on Tuesday.
The decision comes after the FDA says Walgreens had "racked up nearly 1,800 violations" related to the sale of tobacco products to minors. The FDA also called for a meeting with Walgreens officials to discuss the matter.
Walgreens announced on Tuesday that beginning September 1st, it would only sell tobacco products to customers age 21 or over.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been pressuring retailers to do more to keep young people from getting their hands on tobacco products.
IL is among 12 states where you must be 21 to purchase tobacco. Last week, U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products, including vaping devices, to 21 from 18.
In February, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb criticized the company in a press release for its repeated violations, which included 22 percent of its more than 6,300 locations.
In a statement, the company said the policy is its most recent steps in an effort to further prevent the youth from accessing tobacco products. "The stakes are too high for our young people and our country's decades-long fight to reduce the morbidity and mortality that accompanies tobacco product use".
He added that pharmacists and technicians will receive ongoing training and certification to help people with smoking cessation efforts. Walgreens' new tobacco policy reinforces other recent steps the company has taken, including the implementation of a "Card All" policy chain-wide last October, which requires verification regardless of age on all tobacco sales in Walgreens stores.
CNN's Chris Isidore and Emanuella Grinberg contribued to this report.