CVS Caremark is going to start helping Americans kick the smoking habit. In a bold move, the chain of national pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1.
Taking tobacco off their shelves in more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide and more than 800 MinuteClinics is more in line with helping “people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
President Barack Obama praised the move as setting a “powerful example.” It will be interesting to see if other major pharmacies follow suit.
The chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society, Dr. Richard Wender, also applauded the decision saying, “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.”
It does, indeed, seem rather refreshing for a large retail chain to put its customers’ health ahead of profits.
CVS admits it will lose an estimated $1.5 billion in tobacco sales and about another half a billion on other products those tobacco shoppers purchase while there. It’s pretty impressive that one of the largest chains is willing to take an annual loss of $2 billion.
The American Medical Association had this to say: “We commend CVS for putting public health ahead of their bottom line and recognizing the need for pharmacies to focus on supporting health and wellness instead of contributing to disease and death caused by tobacco use,”
But in recent years, CVS revenues have been growing. In 2012, the company experienced a 15% jump in revenues from the prior year: from $107.1 billion to $123.1 billion. The growth is stemming from pharmacy sales.
CVS also revealed its plans to introduce a national smoking-cessation program this spring. The company will provide information and treatment for those trying to quit smoking.
Needless to say, CVS will continue to offer smoking-cessation products such as nicotine patches or gum.
The serious health problems tobacco causes are well-known: cancer, stroke, heart disease and lung diseases. The fact that 5 million deaths per year are caused by tobacco and that smokers are likely to die 10 years before nonsmokers, according to the CDC, suggest we Americans still have a smoking problem.
According to a report from the California Department of Public Health, tobacco sales in U.S. pharmacies increased between 2005 and 2009. And at the current rate by 2020, almost 15% of all U.S. cigarette sales will happen at pharmacies.
While most tobacco sales are in convenience stores, removal of tobacco products from one of the nation’s largest pharmacies is certainly a bold move toward helping Americans kick the habit.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, contact preventive care physicians All About Women (https://www.allaboutwomenmd.com/preventive-care-services.html) for the latest in smoking cessation plans.