It’s About Time! Or Is It?: CVS To Stop Selling Cigarettes
On Wednesday, CVS announced that all its 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1.
Larry Merlo, the CEO of CVS Caremark says it is, “the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health.” He went on to say that continuing to sell cigarettes is anathema to CVS’s long-term plan to become a central player in the U.S. health care system that interacts ever more closely with patients, giving flu shots, reminding them when they are not filling prescriptions, and, through its 800 Minute Clinic in-store nurse practitioner stations, prescribing medicines.
Not surprisingly, the decision gained immediate praise from the American Medical Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. “Over time, we think lives will be saved by this,” says Cancer Society President John Seffrin.
Even President Obama has weighed in on CVS’s decision. A statement released by the White House says, in part: “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and 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—ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come.”
CVS expects to lose $2 billion from ending tobacco sales. Not exactly small change, but their projected revenue for 2014 is $133 billion.
This is good idea and I hope other pharmacies follow suit. Ending tobacco sales is not a move that will necessarily make people stop smoking, but this is part of a bigger issue. It’s hard not to be suspicious of a store that on one side has a health clinic that encourages wellness and on the other side has products that contribute to heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke. If smokers can’t buy their cigarettes from CVS, they can and should shop elsewhere like gas stations, convenience stores, and tobacco shops.
Some people are pointing out that CVS also carries sugar-laden sodas and unhealthy foods that contribute to a multitude of health problems. Why not stop selling those products, as well? Merlo says that any dietician will tell you that eating those foods in moderation is okay. The same cannot be said of cigarettes. I’d also say that one’s eating a slice of chocolate cake has zero effect on bystanders.
How do you feel about CVS’s decision to stop selling tobacco products? Take the poll and share your thoughts.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.