CVS took a stand on Wednesday, and decided that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October. This move makes CVS the first U.S. drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf.
Public health experts called the decision by the second largest U.S. drugstore chain a precedent-setting step that could pressure other stores to follow suit.
CVS, whose Caremark unit is a major pharmacy benefits manager for corporations and the government Medicare program, believes the decision will strengthen its position as a healthcare provider.
“I think it will put pressure on other retailers who want to be in healthcare,” said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen Brennan.
Although some cities, including Boston and San Francisco, already ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, advocates hope CVS’ voluntary decision will have a ripple effect among other pharmacy chains.
Some retailers stopped selling cigarettes years ago: Target Corp decided to drop them in 1996, while East Coast supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets did so in 2008.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which advocates for tobacco control, said that CVS’s announcement could drive momentum for declining tobacco use.
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