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The future of drugstores, no more tobacco?

On Wednesday, CVS Caremark announced that they are going to stop selling cigarettes and all tobacco products by Oct. 1.  President and CEO of CVS Caremark Larry J. Merlo explained to CNN.com that it was the right thing to do for their customers and company to help people on their path to better health.

This move has gained the attention of President Barack Obama who has given praise to CVS for it.

“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday according to CNN.com.

Walgreens spokesman Jim Graham explained that CVS had been evaluating “this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us with their ongoing health needs.”

This Editorial Board does agree that CVS is taking a step in the right direction toward making people live healthier lifestyles.  However, they do still sell products such as alcohol, chips and candy which are also unhealthy for our bodies if we abuse them.  When Merlo was asked about this he stated that in moderation, [those] do not have the same adverse effects as the use of tobacco.  Also, CVS will lose $2 billion annually from tobacco shoppers.

Even though it may not be the smartest business move, at least they are ahead of other pharmacy chains in trying to improve public health.  They have also announced that they will be launching a national smoking-cessation program in the spring, which will include how to quit smoking.

Chief Medical Officer for CVS Caremark Dr. Troyen Brennan says, smoking-cessation products such as nicotine patches or gum will still be available for purchase at CVS/pharmacy locations.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that cancer, stroke, heart disease and lung diseases are results of smoking.  More than five billion deaths per year are caused by tobacco use and smokers are more likely to die 10 years before non-smokers.

The American Medical Association has given praise to CVS, stating, “We commend CVS for putting public health ahead of their bottom line and recognizing the need for pharmacies to focus on supporting health and wellness instead of contributing to disease and death caused by tobacco use.”

Yes, CVS is headed in the right direction.  But, it makes us wonder if they will take every unhealthy product out of their store if they are so concerned about the health of their customers.  It would be challenging to make this move since they would most likely have to replace everything with healthier and more natural foods and drinks, but it would be the only way CVS could keep making money.

It will be interesting to see if CVS keeps up with their decision of not selling tobacco products because it is going to lose a large portion of their sales as well as advertisements.  However, what they are doing for their customers is for the right reasons, which we should give credit for.

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