A woman begins shopping at the Hannaford store in Scarborough at precisely 7 a.m. in this March file photo taken during the coronavirus pandemic. Maine's largest grocery store chain says it will phase out the sale of tobacco products by fall. Credit: Nick Shroeder / BDN

Hannaford will phase out tobacco products by fall in its 183 stores in New England and New York, becoming the latest store chain to eliminate tobacco products.

The grocery chain with 63 stores in Maine and others in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York plans to phase out tobacco products by this fall, with the specific date for stopping sales varying by store, said Hannaford spokesperson Eric Blom.

“We have been moving away from tobacco items for some time, due to our commitment around health and reducing the number of items sold,” he said.

A law designed to fund tobacco cessation and make sure tobacco products are taxed at the same rate took effect in Maine in January. It was designed to equalize the tax on tobacco products in line with cigarettes at 43 percent of the wholesale sales price. The law applies to products such as pipe tobacco, cigars and e-cigarette products, which previously were taxed at 20 percent. The wholesale tax does not include the sales tax at the register.

Target stopped selling tobacco in 1996, while CVS Pharmacy stopped in 2014. Walmart and Walgreens still sell tobacco, but they increased the age to buy tobacco products to 21 before President Donald Trump signed a law hiking the minimum age of sale to 21.

Lori Valigra, investigative reporter for the environment, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...