Walgreens stores will stop selling tobacco products to anyone below 21 years old. The Walgreens Boots Alliance, the UK division of the company, made the announcement on Tuesday.

Top Violator Among Pharmacies Selling Tobacco Products

The decision to increase the age to buy tobacco at its drugstores comes as Walgreens faces possible sanction from health regulators for allegedly selling tobacco products to minors.

The Food and Drug Administration placed Walgreens "on notice" earlier this year, saying the pharmacy chain violated rules that prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to undergo buyers.

The FDA noted that Walgreens is the top violator among pharmacies selling tobacco products. The agency said that of the more than 6,000 Walgreens locations it inspected, about 22 percent were found illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

"These illegal sales must stop," then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a letter addressed to Walgreens President of Operations Richard Ashworth. "The stakes are too high for our young people and our country's decades-long fight to reduce the morbidity and mortality that accompanies tobacco product use."

New Policy To Take Effect On Sept. 1

In response, Walgreen will require customers to be at least 21 years old to order or buy tobacco products starting Sept 1.

In a statement, the company said the policy is its most recent steps in an effort to further prevent the youth from accessing tobacco products.

Walgreens already started a "Card All" policy last year, which requires verification of all tobacco sales regardless of age.

"We've seen positive results from other recent efforts to strengthen our policies related to tobacco sales, and believe this next step can be even more impactful to reduce its use among teens and young adults," Ashworth said in the statement.

Ashworth said the company also has ongoing training and certification for pharmacists and technician and assured that the company will help and support people who want to quit using tobacco.

Dangers Of Smoking At An Early Age

The World Health Organization warned the dangers of smoking at an early age. WHO said it can increase the risk of cancer, cause shortness of breath, and is associated with emotional or psychological issues. People who smoke early are also more likely to smoke throughout their adult life.

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