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Walmart hikes age to buy tobacco products, e-cigarettes to 21

Julia La Roche

Walmart (WMT) is voluntarily raising the age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 at all of its U.S. stores, the company said on Wednesday.

In a letter to the Food & Drug Administration, the retail giant said it was also in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—otherwise known as e-cigarettes.

"We unequivocally acknowledge that even a single sale of a tobacco product to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard," wrote John Scudder, Walmart's U.S. chief compliance and ethics officer.

"The FDA can be assured that we will remain focused on improving our compliance program and rates and that any sale-to-minor violation will be handled promptly and appropriately,” Scudder added.

Scudder said Walmart plans to conduct 8,000 "secret-shopper" visits using a third party service at its U.S. stores to monitor age-verification processes. The company also plans to use virtual reality to train its associates in scenarios around the sale of tobacco products.

The letter to the FDA comes on the heels of Walmart releasing its first-ever Environmental, Social, and Governance report.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.