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CVS Caremark to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Says sale of cigarettes is inconsistent with a pharmacy's mission
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By HealthDay staff

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The national drug store chain CVS Caremark said Wednesday that it's phasing out the sale of tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores across the United States.

The company said cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco will no longer be available at any of the stores by Oct. 1.

CVS said it's making the move because selling tobacco products isn't in keeping with a pharmacy's mission of helping to protect people's health. It said it's the first national pharmacy chain to halt the sale of tobacco products.

"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," Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

In a statement, the American Lung Association applauded the move by CVS.

The group "commends company leaders for their forward-thinking decision to prioritize the health and well-being of current and future customers and employees and for helping create a tobacco-free generation of youth," said ALA National President Harold Wimmer.

"We urge more retailers to take note of CVS Caremark's actions and join in efforts to help reduce access to tobacco and tobacco use, and eliminate tobacco-caused deaths and disease," Wimmer added.

Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the number of Americans who smoke has dropped from about 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, more interventions -- such as reducing the availability of cigarettes -- are needed, the CVS news release said.

Writing in a Journal of the American Medical Association "Viewpoint" article published online Wednesday, CVS chief medical officer Dr. Troyen Brennan and co-author Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, said that "the paradox of cigarette sales in pharmacies has become even more relevant recently, in large part because of changes in the pharmacy industry. "

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