Walgreens Pressured to Bail on Cigarettes

Two groups filed a shareholder proposal asking the board to review the risks of tobacco sales.


At press time, Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens was deep in the throes of a battle over whether a proposal for the chain to stop selling tobacco products at all 8,173 Walgreens locations should be on the agenda at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in January. Shareholder advocates have been pushing for the measure, charging that the sale of tobacco products exposes Walgreens to financial risks that may undermine shareholder value.

However, company management is seeking to have the proposal omitted from the 2017 proxy statement. “In our conversations with the company over the last six years, we thought management understood the inherent hypocrisy of a self-identified healthcare company selling a known lethal agent,” said lead filer Tom McCaney of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.