CVS readies for future, will stop selling tobacco Oct. 1

By Lorrie Hare
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The giant U.S. pharmacy chain CVS announced it will stop selling all tobacco products nationwide as of Oct. 1, 2014.

Cody Eyles, Richmond resident and smoker since age 13, says he never understood why pharmacies would sell tobacco products since people visit there to better their health.

“It never made sense to me because you always see signs on the door about how your health is important,” Eyles said. “They’re a pharmacy — a drugstore to help your health, not sell things that can make it worse.”

The pharmacy chain has about 26,000 pharmacists and nurses helping customers every day to keep other health problems under control, from things like high cholesterol to high blood pressure, which all can be caused by smoking.

About 7,600 stores will shift their attention toward being a better health care provider and having more in store clinics.

Ashley Jones, a Richmond CVS customer, says being pregnant has made her realize her health is more important than ever. She agrees with removing all tobacco products out of the drugstore.

“It’s such a good thing for people to realize that pharmacies are supposed to promote better health,” Jones said. “Having the sale of tobacco products along with advertising better health really doesn’t make much sense.”

This tobacco-free idea has been floating around in the CVS business for a while. Many customers are not sure why tobacco products haven’t been pulled out of pharmacies sooner because more than 480,000 deaths each year are associated with smoking.

According to, CVS president and CEO Larry J. Merlo expects the customers that come in just to buy tobacco products will find other places to make purchases. He says the decision was really a matter of how to prepare the company for the future and selling tobacco doesn’t go along with the focus of the store.

Theresa Saunders, former pharmacist says removing all tobacco products will impact the future health of everyone and is a good step in the right direction for CVS.

“Overall health is important, and if people are going to buy tobacco products then they need to buy them where health isn’t so important,” Saunders said. “It is hard to share that positive attitude with the customers as they grab their heart medicine along two packs of cigarettes.”

Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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