CVS to stop selling cigarettes

CVS announced today that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores by October of this year. The pharmacy chain has 42 locations in the Capital Region core (by our count).

From the company's press release:

"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 Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

There's been a campaign the last few years to get pharmacies/drug stores in New York to stop selling tobacco products -- you might have seen the billboards. And the American Pharmacists Association has been pushing it for nationwide. There's even been a bill floating in the state legislature that it would make it illegal for pharmacies to sell tobacco products. (A handful of municipalities in California and Massachusetts already have bans -- San Francisco was the first.)

The most recent federal estimates, for 2012, have the percentage of New York adults who reported being current smokers pegged at 16.2 percent. It was 22.3 percent in 2002.

By the way: It's been a little more than a decade since New York's ban on indoor workspace smoking -- which prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants -- took effect.

Earlier on AOA: In 2010, the state Department of Health reported that the Capital Region's core counties had some of the lowest smoking rates in the state.


What’s in it for CVS? I no longer believe that companies take such big actions without a financial incentive. Perhaps high cigarette taxes make the margins razor thin so they’re not losing out on much profit.

True, it doesn’t make sense to sell unhealthy tobacco alongside healthcare products, but I don’t see CVS nixing Cheetos or Pepsi anytime soon.

Okay. Well on that happy note, will they also be discontinuing sales of cosmetics that were tested on animals? If they are stopping the sales of cancer sticks because they are bad for humans, why not stop the sale of cosmetic products that are cruelty-free(animals are routinely tortured for cosmetics)? It would be a landmark decision on their behalf, and would thus truly show compassion for ALL beings. Don't sentient beings deserve to be healthy and happy too?

CVS is trying to buddy up with hospitals and position themselves as a place to get a diagnosis and treatment, much like urgent care. I suspect that will make up for the $2 billion loss in tobacco revenue.

high cigarette taxes make the margins razor thin

Or maybe tobacco sales went underground.

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