CVS Caremark announced Wednesday it will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in stores across the country by Oct. 1. The move will make CVS the first national pharmacy chain to take this step.
CVS has more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores across the country.
"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 CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry J. Merlo in a statement released Wednesday morning. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."
Merlo goes on to say that the action the company is taking today by removing tobacco products from its stores “further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace."
President Obama praised the company’s decision in a statement issued shortly after the announcement saying it was a choice that will have a “positively profound impact on the health of the country and that it sets a powerful example.
The Washington Post reported that with CVS’s plan to phase out tobacco products, it could lose approximately $2 billion in revenue generated by tobacco sales and the other products these same shoppers purchase.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the number of adults who are smokers has dropped from 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, it has stalled, according to the statement from CVS."CVS Caremark is continually looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease," said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. "Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use."