CVS Goes Cold Turkey


Photo Credit: Juliana Roddy

An empty cigarette pack, which can no longer be found at CVS

by Juliana Roddy, Staff Writer

CVS is the first chain of national pharmacies that has stopped the distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products and hopes to have all traces of those products gone by October 1st 2014.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said the president and CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry J. Merlo. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

CVS was first started in 1963, with just one small store in Massachusetts and has since expanded to a total of 7,600 storefronts nationwide.

The purpose of pharmacies is to provide medications and remedies to increase health, and so the selling of tobacco has always been a controversial issue.

Tobacco is the reason for five million deaths worldwide, which averages out to be the cause one in every five deaths. It is also directly linked to causing cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases. However, tobacco doesn’t only affect the person doing the action. An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke and are subject to the same complications as people who do smoke.

CVS hopes to pave the way for other large retailers of pharmaceutical products such as Walgreen, Rite Aid, and many others to take tobacco off their shelves. Although it is not certain that other companies will follow their lead, it looks promising for Walgreens, who has admitted to revaluating the product.

While removing tobacco from CVS is a start, tobacco products are still available elsewhere and this action may not have a dramatic effect on usage.

“I think it will decrease the tobacco use in Glen Rock slightly but I still think addicts and tobacco consumers will go to other nearby places to buy it,” said Julian Bennett (’16).

This decision has the complete support of the current United States President, Barack Obama. “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” said Obama regarding CVS’s actions.

CVS is expected to lose a total of two billion dollars with the decision to quit selling cigarettes and tobaccos products.  The company hopes to make up for the loss by offering new health treatments and products, including specialized smoking cessation programs.

“Although tobacco product sales help keep many pharmacies afloat, I feel that the severities of tobacco products on our health is a larger issue than making a profit,” said John Scandale, a sophomore at GRHS.