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CVS says ‘no’ to tobacco

CVS Pharmacy and Open 24 Hours sign
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Todd Feeback — Hale Center for Journalism

CVS Caremark announced plans to remove tobacco products from more than 7,600 stores in the United States by Oct. 1. Through a press release announcing the decision Wednesday, the company estimated an annual loss of revenue at $2 billion. According to 2012 numbers, CVS had overall sales of $123 billion.

“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.” Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Caremark said in the release. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

The sale of alcohol, at roughly half of CVS stores, will continue where state law allows it. Mike DeAngelis, director of public relations for CVS, said in an email, “ … unlike other products that are okay in moderation, no amount of tobacco use is safe.”

CVS says they will launch a program to help customers quit smoking.

“As a leader of the health care community focused on improving health outcomes, we are pledging to help millions of Americans quit smoking,” Merlo said. “In addition to removing cigarettes and tobacco products for sale, we will undertake a robust national smoking cessation program.”

The dangers of tobacco and alcohol use are highlighted in The World Cancer Report 2014 from the World Health Organization. In a recent article from the BBC citing the study, “the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.”

The report includes smoking and alcohol in their list of sources of preventable cancer.

In February, CVS purchased Brazil’s Drogaria Onofre Brazil, the eighth-largest drugstore chain in Brazil, with 44 stores.

DeAngelis said these stores will not sell tobacco, as tobacco sales in pharmacies are prevented by law in Brazil.

Major Funding for Health coverage on KCPT provided by Assurant Employee Benefits and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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