Drugstore chain CVS got a shout out from President Obama after announcing this morning that it would stop selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores across the country.
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
“As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we’re taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace,” Merlo added.
The company cited a Journal of the American Medical Association study published online this morning by CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. that essentially said it’s hypocritical for a pharmacy that’s been offering more and more health screenings and vaccinations to sell cigarettes.
“Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use,” Brennan said.
Obama said in a statement that he applauded the company’s news.
“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,” Obama said. “I congratulate – and thank – the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors, and all who helped make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.”
Anti-tobacco legislators were similarly enthused. “Other stores should follow CVS’ lead by making this decision to help reduce health care costs and save countless lives,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “Tobacco is the only legal product that kills customers who use it as intended, and it should be completely removed from the marketplace.”