Family Dollar Stores Start Selling Cigarettes
Usually found at grocery stores or gas stations, cigarettes are now on sale at the Family Dollar store on Arsenal Street in Watertown.
For the first time in the store's history, Family Dollar is selling tobacco at most of its 7,000 stores and anti-smoking groups aren't happy about it.
Store officials say it's all about giving the customers what they want and taking advantage of that revenue.
"The customers that shop us the most, really, they smoke," said Family Dollar's Josh Braverman. "And they go to other retailers to purchase their cigarettes."
Anti-tobacco groups say Family Dollar is preying on victims, not helping customers.
"It's unfortunate that stores like the Family Dollar want to start getting into the tobacco industry and into the tobacco business selling tobacco," said Terra House of the Tobacco Prevention Awareness Cessation Coalition, otherwise known as T-PACC.
"Because poor families going into the store looking for bargains, there the tobacco is, and unfortunately it's going to be purchased and it's going to be seen by youth," House said
Store officials counter, saying their stores aren't any different than other stores that sell cigarettes. It's all legal.
"When folks come to Family Dollar, if they want to purchase cigarettes, it'll be the same cigarettes that they can find at other retailers," Braverman said.
"We're going to sell them in whatever restrictions and taxes and other government guidelines that we have to follow," he said.
Store officials say all name brand cigarettes will be offered, along with some specialty discount ones.
Anti-tobacco groups say Family Dollar's move is a step in the wrong direction.
"We need to start taking action in our communities all across New York state and across the country, that are going to protect our youth," House said.
Not all of their stores offer cigarettes yet, but Family Dollar officials say they expect most of locations to sell them soon.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, Watertown, NY
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