Pretty soon customers won’t be able to purchase cigarettes and products like it at CVS stores. The drugstore chain announced Wednesday that it will pull all tobacco products from the shelves by October 1.
CVS is the second largest drugstore chain in the U.S. with over 7,000 stores around the country. And now, it’s the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco. The company estimates that it will lose about $2 billion a year in tobacco sales, but CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo says it’s the right decision.
“Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered,” Merlo said in a video statement. “And when we asked ourselves where we expect to be in the future as a healthcare company, it became clear that removing tobacco products from our stores is the right thing to do.”
Some local CVS customers aren’t happy with the change.
“In America, we should be able to do whatever we want,” says Paul Noel. “And it’s my right if I want to smoke.”
“It’s making it hard on people who have the right to choose to smoke,” says Lois Massel. “They’re forcing me to go to a place where the price on cigarettes is much higher.”
Others applaud the decision.
“It’s really important to consider wellness over anything and a pharmacy really shouldn’t be in the business of selling cigarettes,” says Lynn Valenci-Cohen.
Shirley Binin says, “I think that it’s wonderful because I gave up smoking my father and my two much older brother all died when they were in their 50s and early 60s.”
Stamford Hospital’s Dr. Paul Sachs sees the affects of tobacco firsthand.
“In a pulmonary practice, I would say that probably sixty, seventy percent, of what I see on a daily basis is smoking related,“ he says.
Sachs says the drugstore’s statement is a step in the right direction. If other drugstores follow suit, the doctor says it can make a big impact.
“It’s really incredible that they have been available in pharmacies all along,” he says. “It’s the largest cause of health problems in this country; there’s over 400,000 deaths every year from tobacco related illnesses.”
CVS also plans to launch a national smoking cessation program in the spring to help smokers who want to quit. But for now, some customers say the changes won’t deter them or others from lighting up.