Schnuck Markets, Inc. announced this week that beginning Jan. 1, the company will end the sale of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and snuff.

The company will sell its existing inventory through the end of the year.

Starting Oct. 15 and continuing indefinitely, Schnucks will offer double Schnucks Rewards points on all over-the-counter smoking cessation products. The incentive is an effort to support the estimated 68 percent of smokers who want to quit tobacco. The company also will continue its practice of not selling e-cigarettes or vaping products.

“Tobacco products are certainly a profitable part of our business, but our company’s mission is to nourish people’s lives,” said Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck. “Tobacco products directly contradict our core mission and that means that they simply don’t belong in our stores. We respect people’s right to make decisions that are best for them, and while we know this may not sit well with everyone, we believe it’s the right thing to do for the health of our communities, and our customers and that makes it the right decision for our company.”

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the world. CDC statistics show that each day, more than 1,300 people in the United States die due to smoking-related illnesses, including more than 100 deaths per day that are a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

“Unlike many other products, there is simply no moderate amount of tobacco use that is not harmful,” Schnuck added.

“Tobacco is poised to take 1 billion lives worldwide this century, so Schnucks’ decision to no longer sell tobacco is a victory for public health, corporate responsibility, and customers,” said Gary Reedy, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “Schnucks has historically been a great partner to the American Cancer Society and this action shows that they, like us, are truly committed to fighting cancer from every angle. There remains an urgent need for all of us to do more.”

Schnucks’ announcement comes as the company is increasing its focus on wellness and promoting healthier choices that create healthier generations. In the past year, the company:

Created a partnership with gyms to encourage increased physical activity, and partnered with food suppliers to highlight simple swaps to make mealtime healthier.