Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Families respond to CVS pulling tobacco from the shelves

CVS has announced that it will no longer sell tobacco products at any of its more than 7,600 pharmacy stores nationwide — and many families think it’s about time.

Have you heard the old joke about going into a pharmacy where healthy people can get cigarettes up front, but sick people have to walk to the back? Well, your local CVS Pharmacy is looking to remove the punch line. CVS Caremark, the company that owns over 7,600 CVS Pharmacy stores, has announced that they are pulling all tobacco products from shelves by Oct. 1. Does this help send a positive, no-smoking message to kids?

Lauded by many

This decision has been lauded by not only health organizations, but also President Obama, who said in a statement, “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come.”

This will come at a cost for CVS, however — the company estimates it will take a $2 billion loss annually. But when the widespread health ramifications of tobacco use are taken into consideration, the move makes sense. CVS Caremark hopes to curb the appeal of tobacco products for kids in addition to helping those who smoke quit the habit — including parents, who may smoke around their children, which has health concerns of its own. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement.

Not a new concept

While removing tobacco products from a pharmacy is headline news here in the U.S., it’s been this way for quite some time in Canada. “Any store here that has a pharmacy in it can’t sell tobacco,” says Heather, mom of three. “I think it was a good move. Also, cigarettes here can’t be on display, so most stores have curtains or sliding doors to cover them. With the new regulations, my kids would have no idea what smoking was if their dad and Nana didn’t smoke.”

“I’m thrilled”

Many moms we spoke with were happy to hear the news. “I’m thrilled,” says Lisa, mom of two. “I hope that this starts other businesses down the same path. I hate seeing tobacco products hawked at so many of the stores we go to, and it just seems backwards to sell them at a store that includes a pharmacy, too.”

Just one vice

However, while many praise the decision, others express their concern that the store continues to carry other unhealthy items like soda, junk food and in some areas, alcohol. “While I think the move is great, I do think that if the retail chain wanted to forward their mission of good health, they’d ax the candy bars and six packs,” shares Emily from Nebraska.

But Julie, a school nurse and mom of one, feels that this is an opportunity to open — and maintain — a dialogue with your kids. “If you’re not a smoker, your kids probably won’t even notice that your pharmacy has moved the cigarettes out the door, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to talk about it,” she says. “It can be an excellent jumping-off point to a conversation about making healthy choices — and that isn’t limited to tobacco, either. Let them know that just because a store has unhealthy options available, it doesn’t mean they need to partake.”

Overall, moms really hope that this will set a precedent for other stores to follow suit — after all, a pharmacy really isn’t somewhere you should be able to buy cigarettes, it’s somewhere you and your family go to get healthy.

More on family health

Healthy kids: The importance of child nutrition and exercise
15 Ways to raise a healthy child
Mom story: I founded an allergy-friendly bakery

Leave a Comment