CVS pharmacy stopped selling sigarettes. What happened?

Tobacco products

Youth cigarette use is down dramatically today, but there has been very little change to tobacco use overall. That’s because cigarettes aren’t the only problem. The introduction of and experimentation with alternative nicotine products such as flavored cigars, hookah and e-cigarettes present a new and very worrisome challenge. As the marketplace evolves and new products deliver nicotine in novel ways, we work to stay on top of tobacco use behaviors, including how these products are being used and by whom, and their health and safety impacts.

In 2014, CVS Pharmacy stopped selling cigarettes because it conflicted with their "purpose of helping people on their path to better health."

The decision by CVS Health CVS +0.14% to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases for all retailers, new data from the drugstore giant shows.

The analysis, published in the American Journal of Public Health, comes less than three years after the company in fall of 2014 stopped selling all tobacco products in an unprecedented move that gained national attention from public health advocates, doctors and the White House. After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly.

CVS (CVS) is detailing just how much the tobacco ban is impacting the company. While prescription sales continue to rise, general merchandise sales tumbled nearly 8% on a same-store basis.

Do other pharmacies still sell cigarettes?Yes, according to Truth Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to ending cigarette use. They cite Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and Walmart as major pharmacies which still sell tobacco products. However, shareholders have recently been pressuring Walgreens to follow CVS' model and pull cigarettes.

It was nearly 50 years after the American Pharmaceutical Association recommended that pharmacies stop selling cigarettes that CVS elected to pull the product from all of its 7,800 stores. Until CVS took action, no major pharmacy chain had implemented a ban. CVS : "Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered." Upon announcing the change, CVS predicted they'd lose about $2 billion in sales, and in 2015 their stock dropped by about 3 percent. But according to CNN, that's all part of the gamble. "CVS is clearly betting the move will improve its brand image, especially among the growing population of Americans who don't smoke."

"When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits," Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said : "This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health."

Several municipalities have also outlawed pharmacies selling cigarettes, most notably in California and Massachusetts, but it is far from the law of the land. It remains to be seen if other brands will follow suit, or if legislative action will mandate a change. But one thing is clear: what CVS is doing seems to be working.

Thank you!

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.