CVS to stop selling tobacco products at an estimated cost of $2 billion annually


CVS Caremark made a major announcement yesterday that their over 7,600 stores will be phasing out the sale of all tobacco products. It’s estimated that this decision will cost the company $2 billion in annual tobacco and tobacco-related sales.

The CEO of CVS Caremark Larry J. Merlo said, “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.”

The move in which all tobacco related sales will be halted by October 1, drew high praise from multiple health organizations as well as the president.

Barack Obama:

“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, 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.”

Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society:

“This is an important, bold public health decision by a major retail pharmacy to act on the long understood reality that blending providing health care and providing cigarettes just doesn’t match.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

“We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to take tobacco products out of the hands of America’s young generation, and to help those who are addicted to quit. Today’s CVS Caremark announcement helps bring our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation. I hope others will follow their lead.”

The decision has immediately put pressure on other major pharmacy outlets to back the play. Walgreens spokesman Jim Graham said in a statement, “We have been evaluating this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us with their ongoing health needs. We will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking-cessation products and alternatives that help to reduce the demand for tobacco products.”

According to CNN, smoking-cessation products such as nicotine patches or gum will continue to be available at CVS/pharmacy locations.

What do you think about the corporation’s decision? Do you think it will have a genuine impact?

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  • Peepers

    I never did understand why you could buy both medicine and cancer in a pharmacy.

    • heyBale

      job security?

  • Nathan

    Are they going to stop selling junk food and soda as well? Sorry, but this just seems ridiculous. It’s not like it’s hard to find cigarettes or that this move will result in anyone quitting smoking. I understand their position. I just don’t think it’s worth the loss in revenue if it’s not going to actually help anyone.

    • Jenn

      The CVS near mee already bans smoking in the drive thru drop off line. If you are smoking they will not serve you. It would only make sense to ban them inside as we’ll. I’m just waiting for them to do the same with alcohol. Personally it should be purchased at a liquor store or bar, not a pharmacy.

    • One Opinion

      Junk food and soda doesn’t adversely affect those around the person eating or drinking them. cigarettes do. Of course people can go somewhere else to purchase cancer-sticks but CVS is making a statement. They’ve made the decision that it is worth the loss in revenue because it’s a position they feel strong about. I honestly don’t care one way or another but at least they’re standing up for a cause they believe in instead of selling out to more money.

    • Margaret

      Per the CVS Facebook page: “unlike those other products which are okay in moderation, no amount of tobacco use is safe.”

      • Nathan

        That’s a cop out on their part. And, also, not medically accurate. Tobacco requires regular use for years to cause any significant health problems. I’ve never heard of someone getting lung cancer from smoking once a week.

        • twelfthnight

          Then you haven’t extended your hearing far enough. I know more than one person who was a social smoker, a Friday-night cigar smoker, etc. who now have lung cancer or have died from it.

          It wouldn’t matter if it was a cop out though, there is NO reason for a store that is supposed to, as they say, promote health, to be selling anything full of so many toxins and chemicals, none of which are in any way beneficial to the body.

    • twelfthnight

      High fructose corn syrup and Red #4 aren’t really on the same level as tar and ammonia. They’re not great, but they’re not straight poison either.

  • anjealka

    We don’t have a CVS in our city only a Walgreens which is the only pharmacy open after 8pm. I wish our Walgreens would do this as well. Nothing is worse then waiting for medication for your sick child & with a long line of people buying smokes. The smoke smell is gross, there are frequent disputes over IDS, or cost and constant police being called.

  • frontdoormom

    good for them! hopefully this will encourage other stores to do the same. in turn having cigarettes only sold at specific locations, causing the cost to sky rocket then having the smokers quit because its cheaper to quit 🙂
    something tells me the only people getting upset over this are the smokers themselves.

    • Nathan

      Cigarette prices are determined by taxes and state laws setting minimum prices. This will have no effect on the price of cigarettes. Most smokers buy from gas stations or tobacco stores anyway which have much lower prices than pharmacies or chain stores.

  • playnice

    I appreciate this move. It shows some level of integrity on CVS’ s part and I will make it a point to shop there more often.