CVS Will No Longer Sell Smokes

The convenience chain will stock shelves with nicotine patches instead.

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CVS is kicking the habit. The company will no longer be selling tobacco products starting Wednesday — three weeks ahead of its previously announced plan to begin on Oct. 1.

With the move, CVS becomes the first drugstore chain to remove tobacco off its shelves. The second-largest chain in the U.S. (it comes in behind Walgreens) has 7,700 retail locations and manages the benefits for 65 million members, along with 900 walk-in medical clinics.

"Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their health care needs," said Helena B. Foulkes, President of CVS/Pharmacy, in a statement on the company's website. "The removal of cigarette and other tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy."

In addition, CEO Larry Merlo, whose father died of tobacco-related cancer at age 57, said in a statement the company will launch a program next year to help smokers quit. "We're the first national pharmacy chain to step up and take this action," he said. "Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered."

Naturally, health care experts have approved the decision. The American Pharmacists Association had called for an end to selling tobacco in March 2010.

Many others have chimed in with their support as well:

The company's corporate name will also undergo a makeover, adopting the name CVS Health to promote its new health care image. CVS/Pharmacy will continue to stand as the name of the retail stores.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.