KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CVS To Stop Selling Cigarettes By Fall

The move is part of a trend of pharmacies becoming health providers.  

Reuters:  CVS To Become First Major U.S. Drugstore To Drop Cigarettes
CVS Caremark Corp said on Wednesday that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first U.S. drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf. Public health experts called the decision by the No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain a precedent-setting step that could pressure other stores to follow suit (Wahba and Steenhuysen, 2/5).

The Wall Street Journal: CVS To Stop Selling Cigarettes
The move is a bold and expensive one for CVS, a unit of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark Corp. It reflects a major push by retail pharmacies away from simply dispensing drugs toward a more integrated role of providing basic health services to Americans—including millions of newly-insured—amid an expected shortage of primary care doctors (Martin and Esterl, 2/5).

The New York Times: CVS Plans To End Sales Of Tobacco Products By Oct. 1
The company's move was yet another sign of its metamorphosis into becoming more of a health care provider than a largely retail business, with its stores offering more miniclinics and health advice to aid customers visiting its pharmacies. While the company's decision will cost it an estimated $2 billion in sales from tobacco buyers, that is a mere dent in its overall sales of $123 billion in 2012 (Strom, 2/5).

Los Angeles Times: CVS Caremark, No. 2 Drugstore Chain, Will End All Tobacco Sales
CVS, CVS, based in Woonsocket, R.I., also pledged to launch what it called a "robust national smoking cessation program" this spring. Nationwide, less than 5% of cigarette sales occurred in pharmacies in 2009, according to a study by the Center for Global Tobacco Control. But sales at pharmacies have been increasing, even as overall cigarette sales declined (Levey and Hsu, 2/5).

The Washington Post: CVS To Stop Selling Cigarettes By Oct. 1
CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further define its pharmacies as full-fledged health-care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers. CVS stores already are home to over 750 MinuteClinics, the country's largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics, offering flu shots and diagnosis of common ailments like ear infections and strep throat (Kliff, 2/5). 

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