CVS Gives Tobacco The Boot

CVS announced Wednesday that they made the $2billion dollar decision to stop selling cigarettes in their stores. Despite the large cut this will take out of their annual sales, the company is moving forward with their decision. Come October, CVS pharmacies nation wide will be rid of all tobacco products.

Giving tobacco the boot may put a lot of pressure on earnings, but the company is looking towards the future. They are focusing on forming agreements with hospitals and insurance companies and less on drug sales. CVS’ goal is to become a big player in the U.S. health care system. Of their 7,600 stores, 800 stores offer the Minute Clinic where in-store nurse practitioners administer flu shots and prescribe medication to patients.

Breaking into the healthcare market and selling tobacco products just doesn’t go hand in hand. It sends a conflicting message. “Because from the physicians’ and nurses’ point of view, you’re either all in for healthcare or you’re not,” said Troyen Brennan, CVS’ chief medical officer, in an interview with Forbes. CVS believes that this move will set them apart from the competition and gain trust with physicians.

While cigarette smokers are up in arms about CVS’ booting tobacco, the future is cloudy for e-cig users.  The pharmacy will continue to carry nicotine gum and nicotine patches. CVS doesn’t currently sell e-cigs and it’s up in the air whether they will start selling them in the future or not. Electronic cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes. The tobacco and carcinogens in regular cigarettes are harmful to the smoker and people around them. Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine and water vapor, which hasn’t been proven to cause harm to vapors or bystanders.

Electronic Cigarette manufactures are in limbo as CVS keeps them guessing about whether they will start selling electronic cigarettes or not. The decision is contingent upon the FDA’s guidelines for classifying e-cigs. The classification process that has been delayed for months now, e-cigs aren’t cigarettes but they aren’t quite like nicotine gum or patches either.

While the FDA continues with their great debate, health advocate can celebrate. Our air will be a little cleaner now that there is one less retailer selling pollutants.

Eliza Grey, Times USA,

Mathew Herper, Forbes,