Walgreens Sued Over Sale of Menthol Cigarettes

In a new complaint, Fernanda Price alleges that Walgreens Co. misled her and other members of a proposed class in selling menthol cigarettes as equivalent to normal cigarettes. The plaintiff argues that had the class known the additional dangers of menthol cigarettes, as found by congress-sanctioned and peer-reviewed research, they would not have purchased the cigarettes in question.

While menthol cigarettes were specifically excluded from the ban on flavored cigarettes in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the complaint explained that Congress later urged the Food and Drug Administration to study menthol cigarettes to examine their public health effects. Henceforth, the Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee filed a report in 2013 finding that menthol cigarettes are more approachable, especially to young adults and teens, and more addictive than unflavored cigarettes. Menthol cigarette smokers, who are predominantly African American, were also found to have more difficulty quitting, per a report cited in the complaint.

The plaintiff argues that since at least 2013 Walgreens either knew or should have known of the increased health risks associated with menthol cigarettes and their continued sale of menthol cigarettes as equivalent to unflavored cigarettes contradicts both the defendant’s self-description as a “trusted wellness provider” and allegedly violates the the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

As such, the class representative seeks a jury trial to award damages agreed upon therein as well as reimbursement for legal fees, and an injunction to prevent the further sale of menthol cigarettes as equivalent to unflavored ones.

The complaint was filed in the Southern District of Florida, as the plaintiff primarily purchased her cigarettes at a Walgreens location in Miami Beach and falls under federal statute as the plaintiff claims damages exceeding $5,000,000 ( and the defendant is considered a citizen of Illinois, a different jurisdiction than the plaintiff.

The plaintiff is represented by the Law Offices of Howard W. Rubinstein, the Law Office of Angela Arango-Chaffin, and Sheehan & Associates, P.C. pro hac vice.