CVS/pharmacy stores will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1, its parent company, CVS Caremark, says.
Ending tobacco sales “is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement.
The company also announced that it plans to launch a national smoking cessation program in the spring.
The retailer estimates it will take an annual loss of $2 billion from tobacco shoppers. CVS Caremark hasn’t reported its year-end results yet, but it took in nearly $94 billion in revenues in the first nine months of 2013, according to its most recent earnings report.
The CVS action is seen as an effort to buttress its brand image which has hurt by its “employer wellness” program. While others are asking if other pharmacy gains and stores will also drop tobacco products, it is not too early to ask if CVS will cease selling the candies, chips and sodas which populate its aisles as well as its extensive “weight loss” section products of dubious effectiveness, if not safety.