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story.lead_photo.caption Schnucks' Jefferson City store. (2017 file photo) Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Schnuck Markets announced Thursday the company will end the sale of all tobacco products beginning Jan. 1.

The products include cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and snuff. The company plans to sell its existing inventory through the end of the year.

According to a news release, Schnucks will offer double Schnucks Rewards points on all over-the counter smoking-cessation products starting Oct. 15. Company officials said the incentive is an effort to support the estimated 68 percent of smokers who want to quit tobacco. The company will also 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," Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in the news release. "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."

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