A popular local grocery chain that largely caters to Latino customers has stopped selling tobacco products at its stores in Fresno and other Valley cities.
The decision by Vallarta Supermarkets makes it the first and largest grocer in California to go tobacco-free.
Anti-tobacco advocate Rosendo Iniguez, a spokesperson for the Latino Coordinating Center, said he is very pleased about the move.
“Their decision should be highlighted, should be commended, and should be applauded,” said Iniguez. “We hope that it will encourage other grocery stores to do the same.”
So far, 14 Vallarta stores from Bakersfield to Merced have excluded tobacco products from their shelves, Iniguez said. Vallarta has committed to eventually removing tobacco products from all 34 of their stores across the state, he added.
Leading Cause of Death Among Latinos
Iniguez said the supermarket company’s goal is to promote better health in the communities it serves.
Four of the five leading causes of death among Latinos – cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes – are linked to tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Latino Coordinating Center said in a news release that Vallarta’s decision would encourage many Latino adult tobacco users to quit and would reduce tobacco use by Latino youth. The organization promotes tobacco-free policies.
Results from a recent California School Tobacco Survey showed that 8% of Latino youth currently used tobacco products, with over 90% using flavored tobacco products.
“Grocers should not depend on revenue from the sales of tobacco, products that are harmful to the health of their clients,” the LLC release said. “We commend Vallarta Supermarkets for taking a step towards influencing better health in the communities they serve.