CVS To Stop Selling Tobacco Products At Its 7600 Stores

Tyler Durden's picture

Because Americans obviously can not be trusted with making the right, or any, decisions, without parental supervision, the CVS Caremark pharmacy chain has decided to do it for them. "CVS Caremark announced today that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores across the U.S. by October 1, 2014, making CVS/pharmacy the first national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers. "Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

Well, unless all other major retail chains decide to pull the Bloomberg stunt and follow suit, that only means more money for CVS' competitors. And now we begin the countdown of how long before CVS also pulls all the other "evil", cheap high-calorie, zero nutrient junk foods that dominate its shelves and whose consumption is responsible for the bulk of cardiovascular diseases and premature deaths in the US.

From the press release:

CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) announced today that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores across the U.S. by October 1, 2014, making CVS/pharmacy the first national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.

"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

Merlo continued, "As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we're taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace."

Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the prevalence of cigarette smoking has decreased from approximately 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, the rate of reduction in smoking prevalence has stalled in the past decade. More interventions, such as reducing the availability of cigarettes, are needed.

"CVS Caremark is continually looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease," said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. "Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use."

In a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Viewpoint published online this morning, Brennan and co-author Steven A. Schroeder, Director, Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco, wrote, "The paradox of cigarette sales in pharmacies has become even more relevant recently, in large part because of changes in the pharmacy industryMost pharmacy chains are retooling themselves as an integral part of the health care system. They are offering more counseling by pharmacists, an array of wellness products and outreach to clinicians and health care centers.Perhaps more important, pharmacies are moving into the treatment arena, with the advent of retail health clinics. These retail clinics, originally designed to address common acute infections, are gearing up to work with primary care clinicians to assist in treating hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes all conditions exacerbated by smoking."

CVS Caremark's decision to stop selling tobacco products is consistent with the positions taken by the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Pharmacists Association that have all publicly opposed tobacco sales in retail outlets with pharmacies.

"As a leader of the health care community focused on improving health outcomes, we are pledging to help millions of Americans quit smoking," said Merlo. "In addition to removing cigarettes and tobacco products for sale, we will undertake a robust national smoking cessation program."

The program, to be launched this Spring, is expected to include information and treatment on smoking cessation at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic along with online resources. The program will be available broadly across all CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations and will offer additional comprehensive programs for CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management plan members to help them to quit smoking. Approximately seven in ten smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year.

"Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs," commented Helena B. Foulkes, President, CVS/pharmacy. "Removing tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy."

The decision to exit the tobacco category does not affect the company's 2014 segment operating profit guidance, 2014 EPS guidance, or the company's five-year financial projections provided at its December 18th Analyst Day.The company estimates that it will lose approximately $2 billion in revenues on an annual basis from the tobacco shopper, equating to approximately 17 cents per share. Given the anticipated timing for implementation of this change, the impact to 2014 earnings per share is expected to be in the range of 6 to 9 cents per share. The company has identified incremental opportunities that are expected to offset the profitability impact. This decision more closely aligns the company with its patients, clients and health care providers to improve health outcomes while controlling costs and positions the company for continued growth.

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SafelyGraze's picture

and gas stations around the country will now stop selling lottery tickets

Say What Again's picture

Sorry folks, but I see no problem with a retailer deciding they don't want to carry a given product.  The government is NOT forcing CVS to stop selling cigarettes. They are making a business decision.  So be it. 

If you don't like the decision, YOU can go to a different store.

If we want government out of our business, then we need to accept basic decisions made by businesses.

Zero Point's picture

Sheeit Jules. I say it another way and I get shit on.

I think the irony button is broken on my keyboard.

Say What Again's picture

You know what they say.  Its all in the delivery.

onewayticket2's picture

You think the government is not forcing their hand??  c'mon.  one of their most profitable products?   where is the pressure coming from, do you suppose, if not from federal officials (and their pals at the IRS)

jbvtme's picture

what will become of the gene pool?

Say What Again's picture

cigarettes are a low margin product for most retailers.

eclectic syncretist's picture

If they really gave a damn about their customer's health they'd stop selling soda's, junk food, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages.  Anyway, they're probably just going to start selling the shit out of electronic cigarettes.

onewayticket2's picture

but cigarettes require little shelf space/$, little manpower for merchandising and GET PEOPLE IN THE DOOR where they buy other products. 

you dont think the govt was behind the ban on soda in NYC? you think retailers - out of the goodness of their hearts - banned 16 oz soda?  (im no fan of either product, btw, but this is not a free market decision)

TruthInSunshine's picture

In other news, unless CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) JUST DISCOVERED THAT SMOKING CAUSES SERIOUS DISEASE, they have just officially admitted that they have been actively killing their customers for profit by selling them tobacco products for the last 20some years.

p.s. - When will CVS Pharmacy quit selling products containing sugar, transfats, nitrates, salt, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, alcohol, the 90%+ of prescription medications that are far more harmful then helpful (if they have any beneficial, actual effect in the 1st place), GMO containing products, caffeine containing products, any products containing any chemicals or substances that are known or suspected carcinogens, etc?

localsavage's picture

When do they quit selling the drugs that all of the mass killers are on?

AllThatGlitters's picture

Say What Again - Yes, cigarrettes may be a low margin product.

I bet that the Nicorrette Gum, Patches and Lozenges CVS sells and will continue to sell are a very High Margin product. Funny thing is that these Pharmaceutical Company products are just as addictive. Plus,

Pharmaceuritcal companies selling and profiting from their "medicines" is good, while tobacco companies selling an alternative delivery method for the nictonine is bad.


XitSam's picture

Their response to this type of comment, I forgot where I saw it was "In moderation, those products are not harmful. No amount of tobacco products are healthy."

Just reporting.

Flakmeister's picture

Well there is least one voice of sanity here...

Ain't No Sunshine's picture

They're only making room for those "left hand" cigarettes.  Medical MaryJane, Baby!

What is The Hedge's picture

And now you are getting warmer.....


Cigarettes are an extremely low margin product sold at the front of the store. Cigarettes do not create "Store" traffic, they create lines at the front of the store, only. One of the biggest complaints that CVS has is their long lines at the cash register. Much of the long lines are caused by cigarette purchasers. This is strictly an economic decision by CVS.

XitSam's picture

$2 billion a year or 17 cents a share is an economic decision. To lose money.

Joseff Stalin's picture

What is the profit on a pack of cigatettes?

What percentage of the price is tax?

GMadScientist's picture

I think your pussy-whine-suppressor needs repair.

Marge N Call's picture

Agree with SWA 100%. That's what a free market is supposed to look like.

OTOH, why do I have a sneaking suspicion there is more to this story that we haven't heard yet? I mean, come on let's not fool ourselves, this is NOT an act of conscience on the part of CVS, this is a business decision presumably calculated based on greed or fear.

1. Greed: they make more on e-cigs and nic gum. They have data that shows these customers are not profitable, etc, etc

2. Fear: a little .gov birdie told them not to or else. They have some info about some legislation coming down the pike. Back room deal. etc

Takes your picks, I guess I just cynical that way.

Say What Again's picture


There is a third option that you may have overlooked;


Every company that SELLs you something has a corporate image that they try maintain.  From American Express, to Citibank, Disney, Ford, to Wal*Mart, they all have an image, which is reflected in the advertising.  If a business feels a certain image will drive revenue and margins, then they will typically try to align themselves with that image.

shovelhead's picture

Damn shame the iconic Marboro Man just died from lung cancer.

GMadScientist's picture

But he died 'tough' doing what he wanted to do, like a real frontier-conquering American heee-ro. Lulz.

superflex's picture

Shhhhh.  That doesn't fit the narrative.

BTW, he was 72 and died of COPD.

Pure Evil's picture

Better to die young living large and enjoying life than linger on in the pits of some nursing home all doped up on drugs and having some perv changing your diaper once a day.

greatbeard's picture

The image thing works for me.  CVS is one of the stores I do go into on occasion.  I've always felt they should not be selling cigarettes.  But then again, I don't see much difference in them selling candy and potato chips. Yet the cigarette thing irks me more.  And I'm not particularly anti smoker.  Although I'm no fan of smoking in enclosed rooms, smoking is ok with me.  I used to smoke.  Never an easy answer.

cossack55's picture

How about the selling of pharmas that kill tens of thousands every fucking year.  Any thoughts on that?

Ranger4564's picture

Yes, billions are still saved.  Chemicals affect different people differently, and some substances cause harm to some people, but the medicines generally improve quality of life for most people. There are exceptions, and I'm not talking about the intentional poisons that are deployed on people, but generally, many different drugs exist in order to extend life. And they have, you're still here.

Marge N Call's picture

I see what you are saying. Ever go into a CVS? Like most retail, especially drug stores and grocery stores, they pretty much reflect the lifestyles and tastes of their constituent neighborhoods. Not sure it's a strong a brand image play since it seems more about convenience and price in their sector, but I'm not a marketer ;-)

Pure Evil's picture

CVS, Walgreens, and RiteAid are just high priced 7-11's with a legal dope dealer hiding in the back.

StychoKiller's picture

How's that "image" thing working out for JCP?

Dangertime's picture

I see no problem with a retail store doing this either.  They have every right to sell the products that fit their "moral code".


Likewise, I have every right to provide my dollars to stores that match my "moral code", which includes only those business that do not fall prey to the "you are not responsible citizens" mantra.


This includes.....

  • No longer giving Starbucks my money (anti-gun)
  • No longer buying from Dick's sporting goods (anti-gun)
  • No longer watching A&E (pushing the anti-christian agenda)
  • No longer watching the major networks (Leftist Cheerleaders)
  • Now no longer buying from CVS.
Pure Evil's picture

You might as well include all major corporate chain stores because they all went to the same brainwashing schools and they're all controlled by the same subsector of elites that control the major media outlets.

XitSam's picture

"• No longer watching the major networks (Leftist Cheerleaders)"

An image of Ed Schultz in a cheerleader outfit just hit my brain like a wagonload of bricks.

Quinvarius's picture

I see opportunity for other people.

kralizec's picture

Fukken-A, Bubba!  Another outfit that can FOAD!

berlinjames02's picture

Boycott CVS?? I'm not sure it most people will see it that way. I also like the 'hypocrite' comment from above.

My father owned several pharmacies and my grandfather died from emphysema. For that reason, my father would not sell cigarettes in the stores. Most customers appreciated that my father wanted them to get healthy and not sell things contradictory to the purpose of the business just to make a buck. I would argue this will help the brand with non-smoking customers... which are now much greater than the smoking population. Plus, how much money is there in cigarettes?? It seems most of the money goes to taxes.

Quinvarius's picture

In a real crisis, cigarettes are money.  I suspect this is really all just a plan to strengthen the dollar.  heh

eurogold's picture

It's about choice or the increasing lack thereof. Anytime that choice is taken away from us there should be concern. Fine, CVS chooses not to sell Tabacco, some will then choose not to shop there. Sorry about your Grandfather.

GMadScientist's picture

Wouldn't you need to have been a customer of CVS to boycott them, Skippy?

XitSam's picture

Sure. Refuse to buy cigarettes from them.

The Dunce's picture

I used to smoke cigs.  I miss them every day.  My brand was Marlboro.  I haven't had a cig in over two years.  Word to your mother.

Oquities's picture

in other news CVS' chairman announced that they will continue to sell the smoking cessation pharmaceutical that can give you cancer and make your ass bleed...

Joseff Stalin's picture

The amount of tax as a percentage of price of a pack of cigarettes could have something to do with it:


from Wiki:

New York City has a citywide tax of $1.50, making the combined state and local rate $5.85, the highest in the nation.

  • The federal excise tax on cigarettes is $1.01, which is not included in the rates shown above.
XitSam's picture

Which every seller charges, except indian reservations. How is that an influence?