CVS Caremark announced that CVS/pharmacy stores will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products starting October 1. CVS is the second largest drugstore chain in the U.S. and the first national pharmacy chain to halt tobacco sales.
The company’s leaders stated that selling tobacco products is contrary to its health-centric goal, particularly as it moves toward providing more healthcare in the form of small clinics and preventative services like flu shots. As quoted in The New York Times, CVS’s chief executive Larry Merlo said, “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting.”
The decision was met with praise from public health officials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. President Obama also applauded CVS, saying in a statement that the company “sets a powerful example… that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.”
CVS stands to lose about $2 billion in sales from tobacco products – a dent which they say they can make up for in other ways. Nevertheless, whether their move will significantly affect overall tobacco sales remains to be seen. According to The New York Times, convenience stores are responsible for about three-quarters of tobacco sales.
The New York Times also reported that several other large pharmacy chains are continuing to assess tobacco sales in their stores.
CVS also announced it will implement a smoking-cessation program this spring that will be available at all CVS locations and will provide information and treatment options for smokers who want to quit.