CVS To Stop Selling Tobacco Products

The company's 7,600 pharmacies will remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from their shelves by Oct. 1. The decision should "help people on their path to better health," says CVS CEO Larry Merlo.

Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.

Larry Merlo also said CVS will try to help those who want to quit smoking with a "robust national smoking cessation program" at its locations.

CVS says the decision will trim about $2 billion in annual revenue — out of what Forbes reports is $125 billion in sales each year. But as Forbes adds, Merlo believes that "continuing to sell cigarettes, which the Surgeon General blames for 480,000 deaths every year from heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke, was anathema to CVS' long-term plan to become a central player in the U.S. health care system."

The news has already won praise from President Obama. Shortly after the announcement from CVS (which had been expected), the White House released a statement from the president which says, in part:

"As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today's decision will help advance my administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come."

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