CVS switches to tobacco-free stores


The second-largest drugstore group in the country, CVS, announced that by October the company would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its stores. And it has generated quite a bit of news media attention this week.

“We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting”, stated Larry J. Merlo, CEO of CVS Caremax.

It is projected that the company will take away 17 cents in profits per share of stock a year. To make up the revenue loss, the company will start this spring a smoking termination program to help Americans get over the habit.

In 2000, the company opened MinuteClinic, the first retail medical clinics in the country, offering its service in more than 800 CVS pharmacies. As it is hoping to open 700 more by 2017, it was crucial to position CVS Caremax tobacco-free to seek the growth of the company.

ChangeLab Solutions, a nonprofit organization that offers legal evidence about public health stated that more than 400,000 American die each year due to smoking, and that unfortunately, the rate has remained stagnant over the last ten years.

But, will CVS decision help lower the smoking rate in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, most of the tobacco purchase is done in convenience stores. Therefore, CVS’s contribution to promote a tobacco-free generation will mostly mark their transition to be recognized as a health care company rather than just another drugstore.

However, the decision of a leading pharmacy chain to stop the sale of tobacco products will probably resonate in different states to independent groups as an opportunity to fight for a law that prohibit drugstores from selling these products.

Most Americans have a drugstore only five miles from home. Since studies have shown that -the more tobacco retailers, the higher smoking rates-. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco in drugstores will automatically reduce smoking rates.

A pharmacy’s goal should be to look for the health of the population; therefore, their stock should go according to the company’s goal and not obstruct it.

As President Obama said, CVS decision will help advance the “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.”

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About Sofia Ortega

Sofia Ortega ( is a sophomore at the University of Miami. She is majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Health Management and Business Administration. Sofia was born in Boston, Massachusetts but was raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Since January 2013 she has been part of Uni Miami, the only news show in Spanish at UMTV. She reported and anchored for the hard news and sports segment. In the summer of 2013, Sofia worked as an intern for the Ecuadorian TV Station Ecuavisa. After graduation, she hopes to find a spot as a news anchor at CNN en Español, Univision or Telemundo.

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