The Herald Bulletin

February 18, 2014

Editorial: CVS makes right move in helping smokers kick the habit

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Smoking is a hard, hard, hard habit to break.

Simple willpower often isn’t strong enough to unchain us from this unhealthy practice. Sometimes we need a little help —from a doctor, hypnotist or chewing gum — to separate us from this addictive vice.

Last week, CVS Caremark, with 7,600 pharmacy stores and more than 800 MinuteClinics across the nation, stepped up to lend a hand in breaking the cycle.

The largest pharmacy chain in the United States announced it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores by Oct. 1. The move makes CVS the first major retail pharmacy to take tobacco products off its shelves and will cost the company about $2 billion a year. That accounts for $1.5 billion in tobacco sales and another $500 million in other sales made to tobacco purchasers.

CVS Caremark CEO Larry J. Merlo said ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is the right thing for a company that aims to put people on a path to better health.

To help illuminate the path, the company also announced plans for a national smoking cessation program, set to launch in the spring with information and treatment at its pharmacy locations, as well as online resources.

Smoking-cessation products, such as nicotine patches and gum, will still be available at stores.

In stopping sales and creating a cessation program, CVS sets a powerful example in the health retail industry. Money talks, and $2 billion is a loud statement, even for a company that made $123 billion in 2012.

The company should be applauded for doing its part to reduce the number of tobacco-related deaths, cancers and other health issues, not to mention the savings the move could mean in health-care costs. Or the heartache that could be prevented for families.

Hopefully, other pharmacies will step up to follow CVS’s lead, and the dream of a tobacco-free generation can be achieved.

In summary CVS sets a powerful example for the health retail industry in ending sales of tobacco products.