CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes. Should Walgreen’s Follow Suit?

cvs pic from Fortune

Kudos to CVS for announcing today that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October.  Although I wish they could get it done before October, I think it’s a bold move.  And as a Walgreen’s customer, I hope that they will step-up and follow CVS in not selling products that are killing people…I would go as far as to say that if they don’t, I will bring my business to CVS.  Yes, I believe that each person has the right to buy (and smoke) cigarettes, I just don’t believe they have to be available at every retail establishment.  I also imagine it would be easier for smokers to quit, if they could buy their nicotine secession products in a pharmacy where they don’t have to walk by the very thing they are addicted to.

From the New York Times

CVS/Caremark, the country’s largest drugstore chain in overall sales, announced on Wednesday that it planned to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October.

The company’s move was yet another sign of its metamorphosis into becoming more of a health care provider than a largely retail business, with its stores offering more miniclinics and health advice to aid customers visiting its pharmacies.


Yes, tobacco sales generate about $2 billion in sales at CVS alone. And yes, this move will ding earnings for the 7,600-store chain, as stock analysts are already reporting. And other chains — not only competitors like Rite-Aid (RAD) and Walgreens (WAG), but perhaps even grocery stores and big-boxers like Wal-Mart (WMT) and Costco (COST) — might soon follow suit. Target (TGT) stopped selling tobacco in 1996.

From the CDC website

  • Smoking cessation is associated with the following health benefits:
  • Smoking cessation lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer.
  • Smoking cessation reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Coronary heart disease risk is substantially reduced within 1 to 2 years of quitting.
  • Smoking cessation reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among people who quit smoking than among those who continue to smoke.
  • Smoking cessation reduces the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Smoking cessation by women during their reproductive years reduces the risk for infertility. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

What do you think about pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens selling cigarettes?  Would you be more inclined to give your business to a pharmacy that doesn’t sell tobacco products?

*Picture from FORTUNE