A Kendall Walgreens and a South Carolina Circle K face 30-day tobacco sale bans

A Walgreens in Kendall and a Circle K in Charleston, S.C., soon will get a 30-day ban on selling tobacco products after FDA inspectors say they caught the stores repeatedly selling tobacco products to minors.

The FDA has filed No-Tobacco Sale Order (NTSO) requests against the Walgreens at 11690 SW 72nd St. and the Circle K at 2572 Ashley River Road in Charleston.

At the Walgreens, the FDA says the store didn’t check the photo of an underage buyer on Dec. 16, 2015, and April 14, 2018; and sold cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco to a minor on, in addition to the above dates, Jan. 25, 2017; July 23, 2017; and Oct. 6, 2018.

The Dec. 16, 2015, sale drew a warning letter. The Jan. 25, 2017, sale drew another warning letter. The sales on July 23, 2017, and April 14, 2018, led to fines for Walgreens. When the under-18 buyer bought a box of Newport cigarettes at 7:44 p.m. Oct. 6, it constituted the fifth combined repeated violation, putting this Walgreens in NTSO range.

According to the NTSO request about the Circle K, that store didn’t properly check ID of an underage buyer on April 13, 2017, Nov. 11, 2017, and July 21, 2018. FDA inspectors say the store sold tobacco products to a minor on Nov. 1, 2016; April 13, 2017; Nov. 11, 2017; March 1, 2018; and July 21, 2018.

Since late December, Walgreens stores in Miami-Dade County have scanned the photo identifications of each cigarette buyer.

The Circle K received a warning letter after the Nov. 1, 2016, sale and fines after the April 2017, November 2017 and March 2018 sales. Selling two Swisher Sweets cigars to an underage buyer, whose identification wasn’t properly checked, were repeated violations Nos. 5 and 6.

Both NTSO requests note that in acknowledging the previous violations occurred, Walgreens and Circle K waived their right “to contest such violations in subsequent actions.”

And the FDA had some more to say about the Walgreens chain, calling it in a statement “the top violator among pharmacies that sell tobacco products, with 22 percent of the stores inspected having illegally sold tobacco products to minors.”

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “I’m....deeply disturbed that a single pharmacy chain racked up almost 1,800 violations for selling tobacco products to minors across the country. I have particular concerns about whether the pharmacy setting is influencing consumer and retailer perceptions around tobacco products in a way that’s contributing to these troubling findings.”

Walgreens emailed a statement to The Miami Herald Thursday night in response to the FDA’s words and actions.

“We take this matter very seriously and have taken a number of steps to help address the important issue of sales of these products to minors, including requiring identification for anyone purchasing tobacco products regardless of age in all of our stores nationwide.

“In addition, we are training all of our store team members on the new requirements and strengthening disciplinary actions against store employees who violate the policy. We recognize the seriousness of this issue and welcome the opportunity to meet with the FDA Administrator to discuss all of the steps we are taking since the health and well being of our customers is our top priority and core mission.”

Couche-Tard, Circle K’s parent company, hasn’t responded to a Thursday afternoon call and an email from The Herald.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.