A sea change in CVS policy: By October 1, America's biggest pharmacy chain will no longer sell any tobacco products, parent company CVS Caremark announced today in what CEO Larry Merlo calls the "right thing for us to do." "We’ve got 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners who are helping millions of patients each and every day," explains Merlo. "They manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes—all conditions that are worsened by smoking. We’ve come to the decision that cigarettes have no place in an environment where healthcare is being delivered." CVS is the first retailer ever to drop tobacco, Forbes reports—a move that will cost the company $2 billion in annual sales.
CVS, as well as other pharmacies, is looking to get more involved with healthcare; it already offers flu shots and Minute Clinics, where nurse practitioners can prescribe medications. Selling cigarettes just doesn't fit with that plan for growth, Merlo says. And CVS' chief medical officer thinks that dropping tobacco will give CVS an advantage over rival pharmacies when making deals with healthcare providers. Ex-smoker President Obama wasted no time in supporting the move, the Weekly Standard reports: He "applauds" the news and calls it "a powerful example."