CVS to stop selling tobacco products

In a bold move, CVS has announced it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations across the United States.

CVS executives said the decision could cost  the pharmacy retailer billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. By jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further evolve their pharmacies into full-fledged health care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers.

The company plans to phase out all tobacco sales by Oct. 1st. It’s expected that it could lose about $2 billion in annual revenue generated by tobacco sales and other products purchased by the same shoppers. The pharmacy chain generates about $125 billion in revenue annually.

With the end of tobacco sales, CVS will also roll out an anti-smoking campaign with both in-store and online components this spring.

Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said that retail chain also has been “evaluating this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us with their ongoing health needs.”

Kudos to CVS for taking such a stance for public health. Let’s hope this starts a trend that  retailers and pharmacies such as Walgreens around the country jump on.

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