Second-largest drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Woonsocket, RI, United States (4E) – CVS Caremark, the second-largest drugstore chain in the U.S., announced Wednesday it will no longer sell cigarettes and related products in its 7,600 stores nationwide starting October.

CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said selling tobacco products is inconsistent with the company’s role of delivering healthcare.

“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,” Merlo said in a press statement.

The decision also heeds years of calls by public health advocates and medical providers for retailers to curtail sale and advertising of tobacco products.

The pharmacy, which is second to Walgreen in terms of number of stores, earns $2 billion in annual tobacco sales. The amount is about 1.6 percent of the company’s $123 billion revenue in 2012.

President Barack Obama issued a statement lauding CVS Caremark. He said the company is setting a powerful example and “will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs.”

Democratic lawmakers, healthcare provider groups and disease organizations like the American Cancer Society also lauded CVS Caremark’s decision, the first by a national pharmacy chain.

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