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CVS Caremark, the company that owns CVS/Pharmacy, the largest pharmacy chain in the country, announced Wednesday morning that it will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1, 2014.
“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,” CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
Merlo explained that the company’s goal is to provide the best health care for its customers and it no longer makes sense to sell tobacco if it is promoting good health.
“The significant action we're taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace,” Merlo added.
CVS/Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes told USA Today that the company hopes to turn its 7,600 stores into an alternative to doctor’s offices, as more of its pharmacists and nurse practitioners advise customers on their health. Some of these customers deal with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
“Any form of tobacco use makes those chronic conditions more difficult to deal with. This is good for business and the right thing to do,” Foulkes told USA Today.
President Barack Obama praised CVS’ decision. “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example,” Obama said, notes Businessweek. “Today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs.”
While the number of smokers has dropped dramatically in recent years, 480,000 adults in the U.S. still die from smoking annually. The FDA recently launched a new campaign targeting teens to help them to stop smoking.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Viewpoint recently reported that the American Pharmacists Association had asked pharmacies to stop selling tobacco back in 2010.
image: Wikimedia Commons