Hy-Vee store.

Hy-Vee store.

An anti-smoking group has gone public with a campaign calling on Iowa’s largest grocery store chain to stop selling tobacco products and e-cigarettes in its stores that contain pharmacies or health care clinics. Jeneane Moody, executive director of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance, says they’re targeting Hy-Vee because of their sponsorship of a triathlon and Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative.

“They’ve really developed their brand around health and wellness, so we think this makes them a good candidate to consider this opportunity,” Moody said. The board of directors for the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance sent a letter to Hy-Vee officials in early October about the idea, but have not received a direct response. The alliance chose to go public with their effort today because it coincides with the American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smokeout.”

In a written statement, Hy-Vee noted the company doesn’t advertise tobacco products, but also doesn’t believe it should “police customers’ personal decisions.” Moody is hoping Hy-Vee will follow in the footsteps of the CVS pharmacy chain, which removed tobacco products from its stores earlier this year.

“I think CVS set a great example by showing that because they’re a provider of health services they thought it was incongruous to also sell a product that kills their customers,” Moody said. Hy-Vee is headquartered in West Des Moines and has 235 stores in eight Midwestern states, including 123 in Iowa.

Here’s Hy-Vee’s statement:

For years now, health and wellness has been a major part of who Hy-Vee is, and our commitment shows through the numerous healthy offerings in our stores and the activities we support in communities. As a retailer, we offer consumers a variety of products; we do not believe it is our role to police their personal decisions. We actively try to encourage customers’ healthy choices by keeping tobacco products behind courtesy counters and excluding them from marketing. And in contrast, we visibly tout the convenient access to smoking cessation programs and products provided through our pharmacies and in-store dietitians and clinics.
Hy-Vee has:
220 dietitians in 225 stores.
243 pharmacies; this number includes our Hy-Vee Drugstores, pharmacy clinics and in-store pharmacies.
160 HealthMarkets across our 235 stores.

Hy-Vee has strived to make the HealthMarket a focal point in many of our stores – strategically placing it near the pharmacy and dietitians to provide customers easy access to health and wellness information, products and services. Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 235 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of more than $8.7 billion annually. Hy-Vee ranks among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States. Supermarket News, the authoritative voice of the food industry, has honored the company with a Whole Health Enterprise Award for its leadership in providing services and programs that promote a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit  www.hy-vee.com.