CVS officially snuffs out tobacco sales, changes name

Sep 3, 2014 at 3:35 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images News/Getty Images

Aligning with its move to stop selling tobacco products, CVS Caremark has changed its name to CVS Health. But that's not the only change the company has made.

In February, the company announced it would stop offering tobacco products by Oct. 1 — a month sooner than expected — to go along with its mission as a health resource. To bolster that initiative, the company now decided to change its name.

But don't expect that name to change at the stores — those will still have the red CVS/Pharmacy branding.

CVS Health has about 7,700 retail stores and is the second-largest drugstore chain in America (Walgreens is first). The company manages pharmacy prescriptions for about 65 million people. More recently, it opened up walk-in medical clinics — the company now has about 900 of them.

In 2010, the American Pharmacists Association requested that drugstores should stop selling tobacco. CVS is the first large chain to adopt the change.

"CVS' announcement to stop selling tobacco products fully a month early sends a resounding message to the entire retail industry and to its customers that pharmacies should not be in the business of selling tobacco," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "This is truly an example of a corporation leading and setting a new standard."

CVS also wants to help existing smokers kick the habit. It will launch a campaign urging people to stop smoking, which will include educational efforts, coaching and medication support.

A recent study in Health Affairs showed that pharmacies in San Francisco and Boston banning tobacco saw more than 13 percent fewer purchasers. Some people stopped shopping at the pharmacies altogether after hearing about the bans. Tobacco sales made up about $2 billion a year in sales for the company.

Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS, said that if those results went into effect, it could mean there would be 65,000 fewer deaths per year.

Like the rest of us, it seems that CVS is on a health kick. But will they take that a step further and stop selling our favorite sugar-laden treats like candy and soda?

We kinda hope not.

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