The White House issued special praise for drugstore chain CVS for its decision to stop selling tobacco products.
The chain announced the move in conjunction with changing its name to CVS Health. CVS had planned to stop selling tobacco Oct. 1, but bumped the day up to Wednesday.
“Along with the start of CVS Health, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy ends today,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement. “By eliminating cigarettes and tobacco products from sale in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement calling it “a powerful example that we hope others in the industry will follow.”
“CVS’s actions will not only help Americans across the country who are trying to quit smoking, it will also help ensure that when families go to their neighborhood pharmacy, they can get the information and support they need to live healthy lives, which can contribute to driving down health care costs,” Earnest said.
“The president has made creating a tobacco-free generation a top priority… And 50 years after the Surgeon General’s landmark Report on Smoking and Health, we have reduced smoking rates by half. However, our work is far from done, and today’s announcement by CVS Health is an important step forward in improving the health and lives of millions of Americans.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who called on other companies to follow CVS’ example when the corporation announced the Oct. 1 target date back in February, declared that the immediate halt of sales marked “a major victory in the fight against tobacco, America’s leading killer.”
“We can debate the health benefits and dangers of many products, but tobacco kills consumers when used as intended,” Blumenthal said. “CVS rightly recognized the contradiction between keeping Americans healthy and selling tobacco products, and I commend them for taking these dangerous products off their shelves. I urge other pharmacies and businesses to follow CVS’s lead.”