Wegmans to halt tobacco sales

Cigarettes shelves will soon be bare in Wegmans Food Markets, as the chain announced that as of Feb. 10, it will no longer sell any tobacco products.

No new products have been ordered since early January. Additionally, any tobacco products that have not been sold by Sunday will be removed from stores.

The decision came from Wegmans' Chief Executive Officer Danny Wegman and his daughter, President Colleen Wegman.

"It was something we had considered for months before finally making the decision," said Jo Natale, director of media relations. "It was not a product that we wanted to sell. It was all about consumer convenience."

"We have come to this decision after thinking about the role smoking plays in peoples' health," the Wegmans wrote in a letter sent to employees.

Although Wegmans has never participated in incentives the tobacco companies offer, which resulted in higher tobacco prices at Wegmans than at other retailers, Natale said that tobacco was a very profitable category for the company.

One employee at the Route 20A store in Geneseo disagreed. Melissa, who asked that her last name not be used, said that there wasn't any real revenue from tobacco sales because the prices were higher at Wegmans. As a smoker, she said that most smokers purchase their cigarettes elsewhere.

"Wegmans has never been the destination for cigarettes," said Rita Gibney, store manager of the Geneseo branch.

"There's just not any volume here," said Don, another Wegmans employee who asked his last name not be used.

The store in Geneseo has received numerous positive reactions to the new policy from customers as well.

"The community stood behind us," said Gibney. She said that following the announcement, 30 or 40 people came up to her to say how great it was.

"I actually respect [their decision]," said sophomore Stephanie Kaylor, a smoker. "If they're against it, then they shouldn't sell it."

"That's their way," customer Hector Rubert said. "They have their reasons."

Natale believes the company will be affected by the new policy, but remains positive.

"There is going to be a loss associated with this decision," she said. "No doubt about it. We'll learn along with the rest of the world if this will become a trend or not."