CVS Caremark has made the decision to honor its commitment to good health and stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at its stores across the U.S.
The new policy will take effect by October 1, 2014.
CVS Caremark released a statement from company President and CEO, Larry J. Merlo, saying, “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. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
CVS made the announcement in conjunction with its undertaking of a new smoking cessation program, to start this spring.
The program will offer information and treatment on how to stop smoking, and will be available at CVS pharmacies and Minute Clinics. Online resources will be added as well.
More comprehensive programs will be launched for CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management plan members.
CVS said, “Approximately seven in ten smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year.”
Although CVS is the first national drugstore chain to announce it will stop selling tobacco products, it doesn’t appear competitors plan to follow suit at this time.
Walgreens released a statement through spokesperson Emily Hartwig saying, “We have been evaluating this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us, with their ongoing health needs. We will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help to reduce the demand for tobacco products.”
Rite Aid released a similar statement through PR specialist Kristin Kellum saying, “Rite Aid offers a wide range of products, including tobacco products, which are available for purchase in accordance with federal, state and local laws. Additionally, Rite Aid also sells a variety of smoking cessation products and provides additional resources, including our pharmacists, who are available to counsel people trying to stop smoking. We continually evaluate our product offering to ensure that it meets the needs and interests of our customers.”
CVS says although it expects to lose close to $2 billion in annual revenue from the decision, it doesn’t expect a significant impact on its earnings per share for 2014. The company plans to offset the loss in other ways.
More information on CVS Caremark’s health programs can be found at info.cvscaremark.com.