CVS Kicks the Tobacco Habit

The Lempert Report
March 03, 2014

CVS is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to the health of their customers.

The company recently stated that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first US drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf.

Despite a decrease in adult smoking rates in the U.S. smoking still kills more than 480,000 people each year and remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Finally a company is taking a stand. This decision from CVS is all part of their strategy to promote health and well-being, and reinforce their move to compete with supermarkets.

Some cities, such as Boston and San Francisco already ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies but for CVS the decision is voluntary and that speaks volumes.  What will their financial loss be? Probably not that much…The average drugstore chain makes only about 14 percent profit on selling cigarettes – but when you think about the high labor that goes into selling just one pack- checking ID, unlocking the glass displays where they are located – as well as the prime selling space they occupy, it's not a huge loss. And let's not forget replacing this display with higher profit, impulse snacks and quick grabs would boost profits and be much faster to sell.

Here at The Lempert Report, we believe this will not only provide another impediment to people smoking but hopefully have a ripple effect among other pharmacies.  And public health experts agree, calling CVS's decision a precedent-setting step that could pressure other stores to follow suit.  We applaud CVS's decision and hope they are the first of many.