By Mary O’KEEFE
After a local meeting that involved parents from Crescenta Valley High School, Laurie Dunkin mentioned that she had recently discovered that Walgreens at the corner of Ramsdell Avenue and Foothill Boulevard was now selling vapor (vape) cigarette supplies.
Vaporizers, vape pens and electronic cigarettes are types of electronic nicotine delivery systems. The products use liquid containing nicotine as well as a variety of other compositions of flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin and other ingredients. The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Recently the legal age limit to purchase these products has changed in California from 18 years old to 21 years old.
Dunkin voiced her concern about the sales at Walgreens due to the fact the store is so close to Crescenta Valley High School and that many of the students walk there during lunch. CVHS has an open lunch policy.
“[Vape products] are behind the counter but there are so many students there at lunch,” she said.
CVW has been in touch with Walgreens Corp. and Allison Mack, Walgreens spokeswoman. She is researching the issue but was not able to give information prior to press time. CVW will continue to speak with Mack to get the corporation’s response.
To note, Walgreens has supported the community on several occasions including donating items like water to local organizations and participating in the recognition of the CV Patriot’s Day. However, there have been issues with the store, what it sells and its close proximity to the high school.
In 2011 Walgreens requested a a permit to sell beer and alcohol at its location. This permit was met with negative feelings from the community including the Crescenta Valley Town Council which had received a letter from a family concerned about the sales. In that letter, dated in October 2001, the family stated that there were about 110 alcohol dispensaries open for business in Crescenta Valley. The letter cited the students who go there every school day during lunch and after school. Other letters followed from families as well as from organizations like the CV Alliance (then the CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition).
In a letter to the LA County Planning Dept., then-CVTC President Cheryl Davis wrote on behalf of the entire council. The letter included reasons they hoped the Planning Dept. would consider including: overwhelming public opposition, saturation of alcohol sales already present within a two block radius and concerns from neighbors located within 150 feet of the applicant.
Representatives from CVTC and CV Alliance attended the permit meeting. Steve Pierce, a community leader and member of the CV Chamber of Commerce, was part of the initial permitting process when Walgreens was proposing its building and its representatives had gone to the Land Use Committee.
“We talked about the rock facing and [design] of the building,” Pierce said.
At one point they had discussed the possibility of liquor sales at the location but, according to Pierce, he was assured that was not Walgreens’ intention.
Steve Goldsworthy was on the CVTC when Walgreens requested the permit for sale of beer and alcohol.
“As Council we were against allowing another alcohol location that close to the high school,” Goldsworthy said. “We went down to the County hearing and presented our side.”
In the end Walgreens was granted the permit to sell beer and alcohol.
Pierce said he had several conversations with the Walgreens management before, during and after the construction of the facility.
“If they are selling vape [supplies] I am disappointed in Walgreens,” Pierce said.
Dunkin said she did complain to Walgreens management and was told the decision to sell items is made at the corporate level and advised her to call 1-800-Walgreens. She did call and was told they would look into it.
“I would like everyone who is concerned about the [sale of vape supplies] to call Walgreens,” Dunkin said. “CVS does not sell cigarettes or vapes.”
In 2014 the CEO and president of CVS Pharmacy Larry J. Merlo decided to end the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products stating “the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health.”
This includes e-cigarettes as well.
It is not the sale of vape products as much as the location of Walgreens and the high number of students who go there at lunch that has Dunkin concerned.
It is similar to a concern that was raised when Starbucks wanted to include its Evening Program, selling beer and wine, in the Montrose Shopping Park. A group of concerned residents, and kids, went to the Glendale Planning Commission and voiced their concern about the program in a Starbucks that is occupied by families and numerous students. In this case the Commission sided with the community and did not allow the permit for alcohol.
At that Commission meeting a CVHS student who was opposed to the Evenings Program said that he realized that if underage kids want liquor they will find a way to get it; however, “Why would you give us more access?”
CVTC President Harry Leon as of Tuesday night had not received any letters from residents about the issue but invited Dunkin and anyone else with concerns to contact the Council at thecvcouncil.com or email President Leon at email@example.com.