Smoking is about to get just a little bit harder for everyone. Today CVS announced it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products starting on October 1. So stock up now, everyone! Just kidding. While this is clearly not going to wipe cigarettes from the face of the Earth, it is a pioneering decision for the largest pharmacy chain in the nation. The CVS Caremark CEO Larry J. Merlo says they're doing it for the sake of our health.
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.
That purpose being ... selling me potato chips? Oh, no, I get it. CVS is a pharmacy, so their purpose is to support our health. Getting rid of a product that ruins your health does make sense, actually. And I can definitely see how not facing those rows of cigarettes behind the register would help people who are trying to quit. Less temptation!
This is not just a trendy, PR decision. CVS is going to LOSE MONEY. It's going to cost them an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue. Stores do not lose revenue like that on purpose just to look good.
President Obama, himself a former smoker, praised the decision.
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.
With one store leading the way, that does put some pressure on everyone else. Wallgreens says it's "evaluating" its choice of products. We'll see what happens.
CVS also announced it will start a smoking-cesation program in the spring -- which is smart of them. It's one thing to make smoking a little bit harder. But if you can give people a few tools to help them quit as well, that's even better.
But back to those potato chips. I wonder if CVS keeps going with this "we're all about wellness" program, they'll make other changes? Will they also eventually stop selling junk food and soda, and start selling fruit and veggie snacks?
Do you think CVS not selling cigaretts will be helpful to people who are trying to quit smoking?
Image via Fried Dough/Flickr