CVS to Become First Drugstore Chain to Stop Selling Cigarettes

By Bryan Le 02/05/14

The ubiquitous chain hopes to set an example as a health care provider, even though it stands to lose close to $2 billion in annual revenue.

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CVS announced Wednesday that it would cease sales of cigarettes in its 7,600 stores by October, hoping to strengthen its position as a healthcare provider.

“I think it will put pressure on other retailers who want to be in healthcare,” said CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen Brennan. Public health care experts commended the move and declared that it could set a precedent for other retailers to follow.

President Barack Obama also came out in support of the drugstore chain's decision. “Today's decision will help advance my administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down healthcare costs,” Obama said in a statement.

While CVS may be the first drugstore chain to stop cigarette sales, they aren't alone. Target stopped stocking cigarettes in 1996 and supermarket chain Wegmans Food Market kicked the habit in 2006.

CVS said that the strategy not only bolsters its reputation as a health care service, but also said it won't negatively affect their bottom line much. The chain expects to lose $2 billion of its $132.9 billion in annual sales; not surprising considering U.S. smoking rates fell 43 percent between 2003 and 2013.  CVS hopes to recoup the lost revenue through increased credibility and smoking cessation programs.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter