Well, it’s official: CVS has stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The sales ban will cost the multi-billion dollar pharmacy chain about $2 billion a year in profits. But the hope is that the move will provide a more consistent health promotion message to consumers (it has changed its corporate name to CVS Health) and lead to new business (for example, through visits to its in-store health clinics).
But will this move have any effect on smoking in the population? It’s difficult to say at this point.
The impact of the ban on overall tobacco sales nationwide will probably be negligible. Only a very small percentage of consumers buy their tobacco at pharmacies and there are plenty of retail options available beyond the local pharmacy.
CVS is also banning the sale of electronic or e-cigarettes. Advocates from this industry are predictably agitated: “It’s smoking that causes all the health problems, not the smokeless alternatives.” Others argue that e-cigarettes and other smokeless alternatives are effective aids for those wishing to quit-smoking.