(February 5, 2014) CVS Caremark says it will stop selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide.
The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1 as it continues to focus more on health care.
"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is simply the right thing to do for the good of our customers and our company," CVS said in a statement on its website.
"The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health."
CVS Caremark Corp. and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores for several years where pharmacists give flu shots and other immunizations.
The clinics have been expanding the care they deliver.
The move will cost the Woonsocket, R.I., company about $2 billion in annual revenue, but CVS executives expect it to also help the health care business grow.
The Texas Medical Association applauded the decision Wednesday.
“Texas physicians are thrilled by CVS Caremark’s decision today to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores,” TMA President Dr. Stephen L. Brotherton said.
“Tobacco is directly responsible for the death of 24,000 Texans each year, more than homicide, HIV, suicide, influenza and pneumonia, accidents, and diabetes combined,” he said.
“TMA now challenges Walgreens and other large pharmacies in Texas to follow the healthy example of CVS. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
President Barack Obama praised the chain, as well.
Mr. Obama said CVS is setting a "powerful example," and said the decision will help his administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease and bring down health care costs.
Mr. Obama is a former cigarette smoker.
First Lady Michelle Obama said in 2011 that her husband had finally kicked the habit.
On Wednesday, she tweeted, "Now we can all breathe a little easier, and our families can live healthier."