CVS Stops All Tobacco Sales Early

The chain was supposed to pull the products Oct. 1.

It’s never too early (or too late) to quit smoking. In an unprecedented move, Rhode Island-based CVS has pulled all tobacco products from its shelves—one month early.

CVS Caremark has also changed its name, effective immediately, to CVS Health. While neither the “Caremark” logo nor the “Health” logo will be outside of stores, the change is still significant because it shows what CVS really hopes to become: a health care company.

In February, we reported that the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain was supposed to stop tobacco sales October 1. In a statement, company CEO Larry Merlo said then that the move will cost the company $2 billion. “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,” Merlo said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

Merlo told NECN Wednesday: “We’re doing more and more to extend the front lines of health care.”

Merlo said the company moved up its quit date nearly a month because they got ready for the move sooner than they anticipated, not because its distribution centers had already run out of tobacco.

CVS has been focusing on preventive care for some time. Many of its stores offer clinics where customers can get vaccinations, flu shots, and their blood pressure checked. This is in addition to its “Minute Clinic” locations where there’s a medical practitioner on hand to diagnose, treat, and write prescriptions for common illnesses such as strep throat, bladder infections, pink eye, and infections of the ears, nose and throat, and more.

Your move, Walgreens.