When customers step up to make a purchase at a CVS store next fall, they won’t see rows of cigarette boxes and other tobacco products behind the counter. CVS Caremark announced Wednesday its decision to stop selling tobacco products by October 2014 in its more than 7,600 stores, making it the first large drugstore chain in the country to do so.
President Barack Obama, an ex-smoker himself, said applauded CVS’ decision, which he said would have a “profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.”
“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,” the president said in a statement.
Though the move might sound somewhat surprising, other retailers have already stopped selling tobacco products. According to Reuters, Target stopped in 1996 and Wegmans Food Markets stopped in 2008. The decision by the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain is expected to cost it about $2 billion in annual revenue. Reuters pointed out that $2 billion annually is only a small sum when the company is expected to gross $132.9 billion in 2014.
CVS Caremark CEO Larry Merlo said in his announcement that as CVS evolves into a “health care company,” there’s no place for cigarettes.
“Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered,” Merlo said. “And when we asked ourselves where we expect to be in the future as a health care company it became clear that removing tobacco products from our stores is the right thing to do.”