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Kmart Says It Will Stop Selling Rolling Papers

August 14, 1991

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Kmart Corp. said Tuesday it will stop selling cigarette papers after an anti-drug group led by former comedian Dick Gregory threatened protests against the nation’s second largest retailer.

Gregory and members of a Little Rock neighborhood patrol organization last month threatened Kmart with ″civil disobedience″ if the chain did not stop selling the papers, which are used to smoke marijuana as well as tobacco. The group did not specify what type of civil disobedience.

Kmart, based in Troy, Mich., wrote the activist group saying it would stop selling the papers. A spokeswoman late Tuesday confirmed the decision, but said it was due to slack demand for the product and not pressure from the group.

Kmart operates more than 4,000 retail outlets in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

Kmart is the second major chain this summer to change its policy regarding cigarette papers after pressure from the group, which goes by the acroynm DIGNITY. Supermarket giant Kroger Co., bowing to threats of a nationwide boycott of its stores, said last month it would require buyers of rolling papers to also purchase tobacco.

Kmart sent a letter announcing its decision to Gregory and other DIGNITY members, including state Rep. Bill Walker, D-Little Rock, and the Rev. Rickey Hicks.

The letter from Kmart buyer Dick Benoit said, ″While we are doing this for business reasons, if it makes illegal drug use more difficult, so much the better. We appreciate the effort you have made to share DIGNITY’s concerns with us.″

DIGNITY is an acronym for Doing In God’s Name Incredible Things Yourself.

Gregory has been working with the group since he visited Little Rock last month to make a speech, and decided to stay for a while. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

DIGNITY spokesman Reginald Toran said group members believe that Kmart’s plan to stop selling cigarette papers was at least partly due to group pressure.

″It is a victory, and it shows that corporate America is sensitive to certain things that are harmful or that abet the use of illegal drugs,″ Toran said.

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