May 8 (UPI) -- Walmart and Sam's Club plan to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21, as an added measure to prevent the sale of the items to minors, the company announced Wednesday.
John Scudder, Walmart's chief compliance and ethics officer, said the new policy will be effective July 1. He said the company made the decision after the Food and Drug Administration said the retail stores weren't 100 percent compliant with preventing the sale of tobacco to minors.
Since 2010, Walmart has passed 93 percent of compliance checks and Sam's Club 99 percent.
"Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard," Scudder said.
Walmart notified the FDA of the new restrictions in a letter.
In addition to raising the minimum age for purchase, Walmart and Sam's Club stores will discontinue the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored electronic cigarettes.
Walmart's decision comes less than a month after Walgreens told the FDA it raised its minimum age for tobacco sales to 21. Fellow drug store chain CVS halted all tobacco sales in 2014.
The federal legal age to buy tobacco products is 18, but several states have increased the minimum to 21. The FDA started enforcement action against several Walgreens and Circle K store locations in February, they say for repeatedly violating restrictions on sales of tobacco products. The agency called Walgreens the top violator among pharmacies that sells products to minors.
Also Wednesday, Walmart released its first Environmental, Social and Governance Report, saying it's on track to reduce 1 billion metric tons of emissions from its supply chains by 2030.