CVS ceases tobacco product sales

CVS determines tobacco sales contrary to mission to provide quality healthcare to customers

Metro Editor
Thursday, February 6, 2014

CVS Caremark announced yesterday that it will halt the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores by October 2014.

One of the largest drugstore companies in the U.S., CVS is headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I. and is the largest for-profit employer in Rhode Island.

The decision is a step towards the company’s goal of providing quality health care to its consumers, the New York Times reported.
“Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” said Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, according to a company press release.

Profits from the sale of tobacco products currently comprise approximately 3 percent of the company’s overall profit. The decision to discontinue tobacco sales will cost CVS an estimated $2 billion in revenue annually. The company’s overall sales in 2012 amounted to $123 billion, the New York Times reported.

Mayor Angel Taveras praised the decision in a statement yesterday responding to the news.

“Providence has been a national leader in the fight to restrict the sale of flavored and discounted tobacco products, and I am proud that the Rhode Island-based CVS has taken a leading role to end the sale of tobacco in pharmacies,” he said.

Though competitors such as Walmart will continue to stock tobacco products, anti-smoking advocates could use this decision as leverage in order to convince legislators to enact stricter anti-tobacco policy and encourage other stores to change their corporate policies, the New York Times reported.

“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example,” President Obama said, according to a White House press release.