CVS Becomes First U.S. Drugstore to Stop Selling Tobacco and Cigarettes

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 02/05/2014 | 11:00 AM EST

Could this be a trend to eliminate consumer smoking?

CVS Caremark Corp., has announced that it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first U.S. drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf.

Public health experts say this business move is precedent setting, and believe it could pressure other stores to follow suit. Anti-tobacco advocates are hoping this will start a trend to eliminating the availability of tobacco and cigarettes, which has long been said to cause lung cancer, heart disease, among other health risks.

Some wholesale retailers like Target (in 1996) and east coast supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets (2008) have already pulled cigarettes, however, with the addition of a drugstore like CVS, smokers will have one less place to go to purchase them. Advocates are hoping that the less available cigarettes and tobacco become, the more likely smokers will eventually choose to quit.

But the choice to do what’s healthy and right comes with a price tag. CVS says it will lose about $2 billion in annual sales, not to mention it’s suspected that CVS’ tobacco sales were on the decline thanks to the more accessibility of other stores like Family Dollar and Dollar General.

U.S. cigarette sales have fallen 31.3 percent between 2003 and 2013. Although adult smoking rates have fallen from 43 percent of Americans in 1965 to the current 18 percent, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people each year.

Do you think CVS’ ban on cigarettes and tobacco will encourage other drugstores to follow suit? Will it contribute to a decline in smoking?

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