Carter County Drug Prevention youth protest against tobacco sales at Walgreens

Members of the Carter County Drug Prevention’s Youth Board gathered in front of the Walgreens on Broad Street Thursday afternoon to protest the pharmacy’s continued selling of tobacco products.

“Tobacco does not belong in pharmacies,” seventh-grade student McKenna Marr said. “We want to get tobacco off the shelves.”

Protestors chanted at cars stopped at the red light next to the building, yelling “Not happy not healthy” and “Ditch tobacco.” Protestors also wrote messages on the sidewalk with chalk, such as “Tobacco and pharmacies don’t mix.”

The Truth campaign, a national movement dedicated to educating Americans about the dangers of cigarettes and other tobacco products, has sponsored similar protests in the past, and Marr said they wanted to do something similar.

“Truth sent us all the supplies,” she said.

In September on 2014, CVS pharmacies announced it would no longer sell tobacco products in its stores.

Walgreens, however, did not launch a similar campaign. The move to end tobacco product sales has mostly been a store-by-store basis.

In a USA Today article on April 1 of this year, writer Dalvin Brown said Walgreens stores in Greenville, Florida cut tobacco out of 17 of its locations there, and executives said they would use the “Greenville” test to determine whether to continue selling tobacco in the rest of its stores nationwide.

Reece Townsend, president of CCDP’s Youth Board, said he felt accomplished when he heard the news about CVS.

“It felt heartwarming,” Townsend said. “We have done something to help this.”

For those who might critique the protest as not being worth standing in the mid-afternoon heat, he said the point was to raise awareness of what he described as a clash of business ideals.

“It is not very good business,” Townsend said. “It needs to stop, and it needs to stop fast.”

Marr echoed Townsend’s comment, saying selling products like cigarettes goes directly against the company’s mission as a pharmacy.

“It does not belong in a place with medication,” she said. “It is dangerous and not OK.”

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