Whats unusual about the CVS Caremark pharmacy chains decision to stop selling cigarettes is that its considered unusual. Why is any drugstore still selling a cancer-causing product? How can a pharmacist counsel a customer about caring for an illness or perhaps about the best smoking cessation product while a clerk in the front of the store is selling cigarettes?
The obvious disconnect moved CVS to take cigarettes off its list of products sold in its 7,600 stores.
We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just dont go together in the same setting, said the chains CEO, Larry Merlo.
Now other drugstores may be shamed into abandoning the practice of abetting people hooked on the smoking habit even as they sell products for better health.
The tobacco industry, which long ago grew immune to embarrassment about its product, shrugged at CVSs getting out of cigarette sales. David P. Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, said the industry appreciated CVSs long years of selling cigarettes and noted that the exit of the nations largest pharmacy chain in overall sales wont be a big loss for cigarette sales. In 2012, only 3.6 percent of cigarettes sold in the United States were sold in drugstores.
Still, it was hard for CVS to quit. Merlo said not stocking cigarettes would cost CVS some $2 billion in sales of tobacco and other products picked up by customers who come in to buy cigarettes.
But CVSs financial loss may be more than made up by increased goodwill and respect for the companys commitment to its customers health.