CVS Health has stopped selling tobacco products earlier than anticipated. In February, the national pharmacy chain announced that it would cease to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products in its nearly 7,700 stores by October 1st. LongIsland.com reports that CVS has managed to achieve their goal even sooner, and had all tobacco products removed from the company’s stores by September 3rd.
CVS made the decision to remove tobacco products because they could not justify selling cigarettes while also holding the position of a national provider of health products and services. “Putting an end to the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use.” said Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health Troynen A. Brennan.
Smoking is the number one cause of death and premature disease in the country, resulting in over 480,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use has declined significantly in the past few decades, from 42 percent in 1965 to 18 percent of the adult population. In recent years, however, these figures have plateaued. CVS wants to reduce tobacco use once more by removing cigarettes from their shelves.
“Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs,” said President of CVS/pharmacy Helena B. Foulkes. “The removal of cigarette and other tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy.”
The early removal was praised by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who stated that “CVS clearly recognizes the contradiction of having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services consumers’ health care needs.” according to LongIsland.com. Schneiderman said that other major pharmacy chains should follow CVS’ example, calling out Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Kroger to stop selling tobacco products immediately.
“As pharmacies increasingly market themselves as a source for community health care, they send a mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products,” Schneiderman said. “The fact that these stores profit from the sale of cigarettes and tobacco must take a backseat to the health of New Yorkers and customers across the country.”