Tell Family Dollar: Tobacco Use Harms Families
Giant discounter should reverse its decision to start selling tobacco
Posted by: Editor | Apr 25, 2012
Major public health groups have joined forces in asking Family Dollar Stores to reverse the company’s recent decision to begin selling cigarettes and other tobacco products for the first time in its history.
The North Carolina-based discount chain has 7,100 stores nationwide. Its core customers are lower-income Americans, a group that already smokes at a higher rate than the population as a whole – and suffers more from smoking-caused diseases as a result.
In a briefing for Wall Street analysts last month, Family Dollar executives said they plan to begin selling tobacco for the first time in the company’s 53-year history.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Break Free Alliance, which works to reduce tobacco use among low-income Americans, have written to Family Dollar urging that the company immediately reverse this decision to protect its customers' health and stay true to its name as a business that values families. Other organizations calling on Family Dollar to reverse its decision include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Legacy, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network and the Inter-tribal Council of Michigan.
"Given the devastating toll of tobacco use on America's children and families, we believe your decision is an enormous step in the wrong direction," the health groups wrote in a letter to Family Dollar Chairman and CEO Howard Levine.
"Selling tobacco to your customers will make it easier for them to become addicted or sustain an existing addiction and suffer the dire economic and health consequences of tobacco use. The fact that your customer base is comprised of low-income families makes your decision even more troubling. Low-income people smoke more, suffer more, spend more and die more from tobacco use .... Sales of tobacco products at Family Dollar stores will only worsen these terrible burdens and health disparities."
Smoking in the United States increasingly has become concentrated among lower-income populations. The smoking rate among low-income adults is 26.9 percent, compared with 19.3 percent for all adults, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of their higher smoking rates, lower-income populations suffer disproportionately from smoking-caused disease and also are more likely to suffer the harmful consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke.
So what does Family Dollar really value?