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CVS stops tobacco sales

CVS logo.
CVS logo.

CVS vowed earlier this month to cease the sales of cigarettes and all other tobacco products in all of their US stores (over 7,600) by Oct. 1, 2014, making it the first national pharmacy chain to take action towards removing tobacco from their shelves.

Larry Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer of CVS Caremark, announced the nationwide change on Feb. 5. According to Merlo, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with CVS’s purpose.

“Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered,” Merlo said in a CVS Caremark press release on Feb. 5.

According to the American Cancer Society website, not only is lung cancer the leading cause of cancer death in the US, it is also the most preventable form of cancer.

“Much of the suffering and death from cancer could be prevented by more systematic efforts to reduce tobacco use, improve diet and physical activity, and expand the use of established screening tests,” ACS said in their Cancer Facts and Statistics webpage.

The decision to stop selling tobacco products is consistent with other healthcare associations that have publicly opposed tobacco sales in retail outlets and pharmacies, according to the Feb. 5 press release. 

“Ending the sales of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is simply the right thing to do for the good of our customers and our company,” Merlo said.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published “Ending Sales of Tobacco Products in Pharmacies” on Feb. 5, in which experts say public health advocates have long questioned the idea behind distributing medications and promoting health at the same location where the most deadly consumer product is being sold—tobacco.

In 2010, the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to discontinue sales of tobacco products and urged state pharmacy boards to discontinue issuing and renewing licenses of pharmacies that sell [tobacco] products. However, according to JAMA, many pharmacies, including most chain pharmacies, continue to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products.

According to their Press release, the reduction rate of smokers has stagnated over the past 10 years where 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit but only half attempt to quit each year. To help smokers who want to quit, CVS plans on launching a national smoking program this spring with the goal of helping millions of Americans to quit smoking and get healthy.

CVS press release:

American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts:

The Journal of the American Medical Association: