State AGs Want Tobacco Out of Retailers

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March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and Bloomberg's Olivia Sterns discuss the the call for retailers to quit tobacco. They speak with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television's "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)

Joining me is olivia sterns.

You have been covering this story all day.

Great to have you with me.

Maybe just highlight where we stand with this potential ban on selling tobacco products.

They're asking the stores to stop selling the cigarettes but they do not have the power to institute a ban.

What is interesting is that they are no longer just asking pharmacies.

This follows the cvs moved to voluntarily stop selling tobacco products.

They said it is fundamentally inconsistent with the new strategic mission.

They are asking other retailers including walmart, safeway and kroger as well as write eight and walgreen to follow suit.

Quite good to have you with us.

Is that pretty much summing up what you're asking them to do?

As you recall, this is the attorneys general who wrought the original cases against big tobacco.

The settlement agreement is still in place.

We are constantly going after big tobacco.

They're trying to push the products on kids.

We're still bringing about $125 million a year as part of the agreement.

We remain vigilant in this area.

The idea is these are stores that are health care providers.

The idea here is to try to hit them to not have access to children to sell their products.

90% of the people who smoke began before 26 years old.

90% began before they were 18. you made the point differentiating these.

They are not trying to be health care providers.

You're also targeting these enormous retailers within the country, walmart, save it, kroger.

Have you spoken to any of the retailers ahead of the news?

How likely do you think this will happen?

I spoke to a lot of analyst who think write eight and walgreen's will go forward.

They think the walmart of the world are very unlikely to comply.

I think that is probably right.

There is a corporate morality here.

It is very difficult for the pharmaceutical companies of the world who are trying to sell themselves of health care providers and brand themselves that way that they pushed tobacco on kids.

The more the walmarts of the world will say we are not really our business.

We start with the pharmacies now.

Most people would agree with half a million people die from tobacco related deaths.

Why is it the job of the attorney general to make a request of these large retail corporations?

What can't this come from the various state departments of health?

Where you involving yourself with this?

Our job is we're the projectors of consumers.

But dying every year.

That is a health issue.

That is not an issue related to any specific lawsuits.

There are already rules and regulations that define who can purchase these kinds of tobacco products if in the future it is found that there are other product that these companies sell that a constituency does not want.

Why would the attorneys general be part of that kind of effort.

This is the job we were hired to do.

Sort of dovetail that with the credibility and the fact that we were the group that came forward to bring them.

I understand that.

Why would she let the help department get involved to say we would like to have a voluntary ban on these kinds of products?

They sell all kinds of things this fall that can hurt people.

They have cutlery.

Electric motors.

The news that can do harm.

Would you draw the line and say you take us up with the health department?

The help department could do it too.

These are products we feel like we need to protect the people of our states from and to get education and awareness out there.

We are able to do that from the platform.

Collectively we are able to do this to go after the egg tobacco companies.

We are trying to push these products.

There is a reason why kids get addicted to cigarettes.

We feel that it is our moral and judiciary legal responsibility to actually promote this.

This is not a lawsuit.

There is access from kids to be back.

They're not supposed to buy this.

They are doing it.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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