Drugstore chain CVS will stop selling cigarettes and all other tobacco products in its stores this year, the retailer announced this morning.
The Rhode Island-based company posted the announcement this morning on their website, with a message from company CEO Larry Merlo. Merlo said in a statement, “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. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
CVS plans to cease tobacco sales in all 7600 of its store locations by October 1 of this year.
In addition to stopping the sale of cigarettes, which bring in an estimated $2 billion in sales to the pharmacy chain each year, CVS plans to launch program to help smokers quit in its pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations.
Over recent years, CVS has been shifting ever more of its business to being not only a drug store and pharmacy, but also as a provider of health care: they now operate over 750 MinuteClinic locations nationwide.
Representatives for the store have told media that killing the tobacco sales will allow the clinic end of the business to enter more advantageous agreements with hospitals and insurance providers. In other words, CVS will be perfectly able to make up the lost money elsewhere in its business.
But making it through theoretically making people better, instead of making them sicker? That’s a big step. Even President Obama had praise for CVS’s announcement, saying, “CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs – ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come.”