CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Pharmacy chain CVS announced a major change in the way it will do business Wednesday.
“CVS Caremark is announcing that we are stopping the sale of all cigarette and tobacco products across our 7,600 CVS Pharmacy locations and we’ll be out of the business by October 1 of this year,” said Helena Foulkes, the president of CVS Pharmacy.
Chantal Fields, the vice president of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, called it a huge announcement.
“They are a pharmacy. Their job is the health and well being of their customers. Tobacco products do not add to the well being of their customers. It’s actually against their mission,” stressed Fields. “So it’s a very bold action they’ve taken and we applaud them.”
The reason for the CVS’s turnaround on tobacco?
“We really felt if we wanted to be an extension, of the doctors office, then selling tobacco was very inconsistent with the mission that we have,” Foulkes said.
CVS is going to take a big hit to their bottom line once they phase out tobacco sales. Foulkes estimated the company will lose about $2 billion in revenue.
Fields called it a gutsy move.
“How many businesses are willing to do something that would potentially hurt their bottom line?”
Fields said it could also be a very smart move. One in four West Virginians smoke but that leaves the other three-fourths who don’t.
“I’m a mother and to know that my son can’t go into CVS now and attempt to buy cigarettes is fabulous and that’s the pharmacy I’m going to use,” said Fields.
She said the decision could also cause a ripple effect with other pharmacies making the same choice down the road.
There are 49 CVS stores in West Virginia.