Written by Jason Claffey
“Health is everything and CVS Health is changing the way health care is delivered to increase access, lower costs and improve quality,” said company CEO Larry Merlo in a statement.
CVS stores as of Wednesday will no longer sell tobacco products. It became the first national pharmacy chain to do so.
“By eliminating cigarettes and tobacco products from sale in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans,” Merlo said.
The move was applauded by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who said, “By accelerating its plan to remove tobacco from store shelves, CVS has prioritized public health over corporate profit, and I applaud them for 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.”
Schneiderman added he hoped other pharmacy chains, including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger, to follow suit.
“As pharmacies increasingly market themselves as a source for community health care, they send a mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products,” said Schneiderman. “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.”
Forbes reported the move will cost CVS about $2 billion a year; tobacco sales made up about 3 percent of the company’s revenue.
Merlo told Forbes that the decision will spur new business to make up for the lost sales.
CVS is based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and operates about 7,700 retail pharmacies.