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After CVS Stopped Selling Tobacco Products, Cigarette Sales Dropped In 13 States

‘The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose’

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In October 2104, CVS Pharmacy took a bold step by becoming the first U.S. pharmacy chain to take tobacco products off its shelves. “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,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.” Nearly three years later, a new study shows its actions have had a positive impact on America’s health.

According to a study by the American Journal of Public Health, smokers who purchased cigarettes exclusively at CVS stores were 38 percent less likely to buy tobacco products after the national chain stopped selling them. Plus, in the eight months after CVS stopped selling tobacco, cigarette sales dropped by 95 million packs across 13 states. Although the study shows that 38 percent of people who exclusively shopped at CVS stopped buying tobacco products, there’s no conclusive evidence they stopped smoking altogether.

The study makes a resounding case that when retailers pull cigarettes off their shelves, it can have a positive impact on the health of the country at large. “It shows that responsible behavior by a pharmacy has public health benefits for the whole population,” Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, told Reuters. “It was a big enough effect that you could see it in the population level, which is very impressive,” he said.

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