I personally have never been to a Wegmans grocery store, but next time I pass one, I might just pull over to check it out. My curiousity was piqued this morning. While scanning through a garden varietyof press releases, I noticed this stunner from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

“The Wegmans supermarket chain has taken an extraordinary step to protect public health by announcing that effective February 10, 2008, it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its stores.”

Huh? Seriously? The Rochester-based chain has 71 stores located throughout the Northeast. There are two in northern Virginia— Sterling and Fairfax—and several more DC-area locations in development. I called the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to see if the decision was unprecedented. Apparently, it was. “To the best of our knowledge, no other grocery chain has done this,” said the group’s spokesperson Joel Spivak. (He mentioned that some organic grocery stores have gone tobacco-free; but no large chains.)

The Wegmans announcement was made Friday. The press release included a brief comment from CEO Danny Wegman: “As a company, we respect a person’s right to smoke, but we also understand the destructive role smoking plays in health.”

(My thoughts still: Huh? Seriously?)

“I called Wegmans to find out more about it,” Spivak told me. “We never had a campaign [to get grocery stores to stop selling tobacco products]. No one knew this was coming. We congratulated them, and so did every other public health association.”