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CVS to no longer sell tobacco products

Senior Reporter

Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 22:02

CVS

Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

Tobacco products will no longer be sold at CVS stores as of Oct. 1, 2014, the company announced Wednesday.

CVS will be the first drug store chain to take cigarettes off of the shelves of its 7,600 locations nationwide. CVS CEO and President Larry J. Merlo said in a press release that the decision was made in order to promote a more health-conscious society as well as the philanthropic ideals of the company.

“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,” Merlo said. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the cause of more than 440,000 deaths each year in the United States. In addition, smoking increases the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

“CVS Caremark is continually looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease,” said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. “Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use.”

The managers of Huntsville’s local CVS store and their competitor Walgreens declined to comment regarding the corporation’s decision.

Triyanka Meste, the manager of local gas station Bearkat Junction, said CVS’s decision to no longer sell tobacco products will increase business at the gas station.

“It’s all right because there are kids around and we’re right across from the university so more kids will come to our store to buy cigarettes now,” Meste said.

Sophomore and General Business Major Kayla Beck at Sam Houston State University, who smokes, said she disagrees with CVS’s decision to stop selling tobacco products.

“Honestly I think it’s going to hurt CVS because people aren’t going to buy their cigarettes there anymore obviously,” Beck said. “It will probably help other vendors because now [customers] are going to go somewhere else like Walgreens.”

Although Beck said she does not purchase tobacco products from CVS, she agreed that if she did she would not be happy with this decision.

“That would really suck especially if it was a store that I bought cigarettes from,” she said. “What if I was in a town where all that was open was a CVS and they used to sell cigarettes but now they don’t—that would really suck and I’d be really upset.”

Beck said CVS’s decision will potentially have an impact in their total sales as a pharmacy and convenient store.

“How many people want to go to multiple places when they can just go to one? I definitely think that it will hurt their profits, I guess in more than one way,” she said. “Not just from selling cigarettes but now people aren’t going to buy others things if they can go somewhere else.”

Regardless of the criticism the controversial decision may attract, Merlo said he is confident that the decision will help both their company and its customers.

“As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners,” Merlo said. “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 heath care marketplace.”

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