In Brief

CVS to Become 1st National Pharmacy Chain to Stop Selling Tobacco

A cigarette is being ground out
Smoking causes 480,000 deaths in the United States yearly, according to the CDC. (Image credit: Ashtray photo via Shutterstock)

The drugstore chain CVS/Caremark will stop selling tobacco products, making it the first national chain to do so, the company announced today (Feb. 5).

The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products is at odds with the company's goal of promoting health, according to a statement from CVS. Tobacco sales are set to stop at all CVS stores by Oct. 1.

"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 of CVS Caremark.

About 18 percent of U.S. adults currently smoke, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking causes 480,000 deaths yearly in the U.S.

CVS has been evolving, fashioning itself as not only a retail store, but also a provider of health care services, offering pharmacy counseling and in-store health clinics.

Sales of tobacco at pharmacies can send the wrong message, said Dr. Troyen Brennan of CVS and Dr. Steven Schroeder of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco, in an editorial published online in the journal JAMA this morning.

"Making cigarettes available in pharmacies in essence 'renormalizes' the product by sending the subtle message that it cannot be all that unhealthy if it is available for purchase where medicines are sold," they said.

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Karen Rowan
Health Editor
Karen came to LiveScience in 2010, after writing for Discover and Popular Mechanics magazines, and working as a correspondent for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. She holds an M.S. degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University, as well as an M.S. in cellular biology from Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to becoming a journalist, Karen taught science at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, in Lincolnshire, Ill. for eight years.