CVS Health, the nation’s second largest drugstore operator, announced they have pulled all tobacco products from their shelves and will no longer be selling any tobacco products as of midnight Sept. 2.
This news arrives a month earlier than planned and CVS marked the occasion with the announcement of their name change from CVS Caremark Corp. to CVS Health. CVS announced earlier in 2014 they planned to pull all tobacco from their stores by Oct. 1.
CVS estimates that it will forgo about $1.5 billion in annual tobacco sales, but CVS balances this sacrifice with the hope of being the first major pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco. This, in turn, would distinguish them from competitors, such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart. CVS also expects this landmark decision to win business in other parts of the company, such as pharmacy and basic health services.
“We believe this reflects our broader health care commitment,” said CEO Larry Merlo in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
With CVS Health’s tobacco-free announcement, Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, expressed the support of The White House, via Twitter, and said CVS is improving the health of millions of Americans. He went on to praise CVS for setting a powerful example and hopes that others in the industry will follow.
According to CVSHealth.com, their newest slogan reads “Our name has changed, but our purpose remains the same: helping people on their path to better health.”
The company considers their name change an important milestone in their history and believes it reflects their broader health care commitment. CVS reportedly leads the nation with about 900 walk-in clinics that are staffed to treat minor ailments, administer vaccines and help patients manage chronic illnesses.
CVS Health’s leading competitor, Walgreens, issued a statement that said they will not be pulling any tobacco products from their stores and believes that not selling tobacco will have little effect on use since shoppers can go elsewhere to purchase products. Walgreens also said they will focus on offering products that will help people quit smoking.
CVS plans to use some of the space vacated by tobacco products behind the register to advertise their new tobacco-free status. The rest of the space will be used for products that help smokers quit. When asked if they plan to carry electronic cigarettes, Merlo said, “We don’t think it’s consistent with everything we’ve talked about.”