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.
Today is the day! Tobacco products are no longer available at CVS for #OneGoodReason-your health. What’s your reason to live tobacco free?— CVS/pharmacy (@CVS_Extra) September 3, 2014
"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."