WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

CVS ending the sale of tobacco products in stores

Posted February 5, 2014


CVS just announced that they will stop selling tobacco products in all stores by October 1 in an effort to help customers achieve a healthier lifestyle.

What do you think about this decision?

From their press release:

CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) announced today that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores across the U.S. by October 1, 2014, making CVS/pharmacy the first national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.

"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the prevalence of cigarette smoking has decreased from approximately 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, the rate of reduction in smoking prevalence has stalled in the past decade.

CVS Caremark's decision to stop selling tobacco products is consistent with the positions taken by the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Pharmacists Association that have all publicly opposed tobacco sales in retail outlets with pharmacies.

"As a leader of the health care community focused on improving health outcomes, we are pledging to help millions of Americans quit smoking," said Merlo. "In addition to removing cigarettes and tobacco products for sale, we will undertake a robust national smoking cessation program."

The program, to be launched this Spring, is expected to include information and treatment on smoking cessation at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic along with online resources. The program will be available broadly across all CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations and will offer additional comprehensive programs for CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management plan members to help them to quit smoking. Approximately seven in ten smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year.

"Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs," commented Helena B. Foulkes, President, CVS/pharmacy. "Removing tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy."


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  • tonycoleync Feb 6, 2014

    This is all about money and has absolutely nothing to do with CVS caring about people and trying to look out for their health. I am a smoker, and I have purchased cigarettes from CVS for years because their prices are lowest. Their prices are lowest to drive repeat traffic and sell high-margin items like snacks and single-serve soft drinks. People get into the habit of buying their cigarettes at CVS, picking up a few convenience items, and CVS has the bonus of having those same people as customers for medical needs once they become sick. I've always thought that strategy was rather brilliant. Cigarettes tie up a bunch of cash, though, and terms are usually unfavorable. Why else would Wal Mart price themselves out of the market? There might be lots of revenue in tobacco, but it does not make sense economically, nor does it generate high profits. So CVS is changing gears, betting the publicity from this change will work better than their previous strategy.

  • ascherer Feb 5, 2014

    As a smoker, I agree with what someone else said. CVS has the right to sell or not sell any product. Do I feel this will make people quit, no. They will just go somewhere else. I can also state that I have never bought smokes from CVS. So, this will not affect me at all.

    Nakabi, I understand where you are coming from but until someone wants to quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, etc. they will not do it until they want to for themselves and no one else. I say that from experience. I use to weight 60+ pounds more than I do now.

  • nakabi Feb 5, 2014

    Way to go CVS! I've never smoked, but I think this is a great step in the right direction to helping people get healthier!

  • diana123 Feb 5, 2014

    need to also get rid of the candy, milk and booze. pharmacies are about healthcare. not for grocery shopping, etc.

  • jdouglas13 Feb 5, 2014

    In Massachusetts, they passed a law in the last year or so that stores with pharmacies cannot sell cigarettes. Therefore, none of the drugstores like CVS and none of the supermarkets with an in-store pharmacy can sell cigarettes. The gas stations are now making out like bandits up there, since they are one of the few places you can buy cigarettes since they don't really have smoke shops like they do here. Also, with all the taxes, a pack of cigarettes up north goes for at least $10 each.

    As an long-time ex-smoker, it doesn't matter much to me one way or the other. As a company, it's certainly CVS's right to sell whatever products they want to within the limits of the law. I can see both sides of the issue. I just hope that if they are making this change in the interest of health, they don't start with the smokeless cigs. Those things are as bad for you as the real kind.

  • RaleighFoodBlogger Feb 5, 2014

    Faye- yes on the veggie burgers/tofu! :-)

  • labs Feb 5, 2014

    Very responsible!

  • ThomasL Feb 5, 2014

    Good you go to the drug store to get things to make you better not worse with cancer,etc.

  • cpellechia Feb 5, 2014

    I think this is awesome!

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Feb 5, 2014

    RFB - buying tofu and veggie burgers at CVS - my dream come true. :-)

    As one astute readers pointed out on our facebook page, they may be getting ready to introduce the smokeless e-cigs since many of the tobacco companies also own those.