CVS to discontinue all tobacco sales
CVS Caremark, the nation’s No. 2 drugstore chain, announced Wednesday it plans to discontinue all tobacco sales by Oct. 1.
The decision affects more than 7,600 CVS stores including the Fallon store at Taylor Street and Williams Avenue.
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is simply the right thing to do for the good of our customers and our company,” said CEO and President Larry Merlo in a written statement. “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health.”
He said CVS Caremark will expand its role through its 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners. By removing tobacco products from its retail shelves, Merlo said CVS will better serve its patients, clients and health care providers while positioning CVS Caremark for future growth as a health care company.
“Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. This is the right thing to do,” he added.
The move will cost CVS about $2 billion in annual revenue but won’t affect its 2014 earnings forecast. CVS declined to say what will take tobacco’s prominent shelf place behind cash registers at the front of its stores.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid applauded CVS’s decision.
“I commend CVS for their valiant decision to stop the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in their stores,” Reid said. “With thousands of kids trying smoking for the first time every day and nearly half a million Americans dying every year as a result of their smoking or someone else’s, taking these products off the store shelves will save lives.’
Reid said the decision sends a powerful message that profits from cigarette sales does not outweigh its harmful addictive effects.
“I thank CVS for setting an example that I hope others will follow,” Reid said.
CVS Caremark and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores and expanding their health care focus for several years now.
CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen A. Brennan said CVS Caremark has been working to team up with hospital groups and doctor practices to help deliver and monitor patient care, and the presence of tobacco in its stores has made for some awkward conversations.
“One of the first questions they ask us is, ‘Well, if you’re going to be part of the health care system, how can you continue to sell tobacco products?’” he said. “There’s really no good answer to that at all.”