CVS surprises smokers

BY MELISSA DELLACATO
Editor in Chief

PHOTO BY MIKE DICOLA CVS will stop selling tobacco products by Oct. 1.

PHOTO BY MIKE DICOLA
CVS will stop selling tobacco products by Oct. 1.

Attention smokers: Find somewhere else to buy cigarettes; CVS is no longer an option.

CVS Caremark Corp. will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its more than 7,600 store locations nationwide by Oct. 1.

“Every day patients and customers put their trust in us to help them on their path to better health,” said Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS, in a video on the CVS website. “It’s the right time and the right decision to remove cigarettes and tobacco products from our store shelves, position- ing us for a growing role in the healthcare delivery system.”

Nearly 7 in 10 smokers say they want to quit, according to Merlo. “We plan to launch [a] robust national smoking cessation program this spring with the goal of helping millions of Americans quit smoking and get healthy.”

CVS/pharmacy’s purpose is “helping people on their path to better health,” and selling tobacco is inconsistent with that purpose, according to the CVS website.

“They’re going to lose money, but if they want to make healthier store decisions that’s fine,” said Corey Fleming, a 24-year-old student at County College of Morris. “I don’t smoke; so I don’t really care.”

Fleming said he believes that CVS will lose many customers because the reason people shop at drugstores, such as CVS, is to buy cigarettes and similar products.

“People should be able to do what they want. If they want to smoke, then they can smoke,” he said. “But CVS also has the right to not sell [cigarettes].”

Samantha Rivera, a 19-year-old radiology major at CCM, said ending the sale of tobacco products is a “good idea.”

“Smoking is bad. I don’t like cigarettes,” she said. “One company [can help] millions of people. Hopefully it will mean all the businesses coming together and stopping tobacco.”

Every year, there are approximately 480,000 deaths in the United States caused by smoking, according to the CVS website. Additionally, 16 million people already have at least one disease from smoking, and 90 percent of lung cancers are a result of smoking.

CVS expects to lose $2 billion in sales as a result of this decision, according to a Pew Research Center data analysis.

“[CVS will] probably lose some loyal [customers] who used them for tobacco but they’ll gain people who respect what they’re doing,” Rivera said.

However, smokers may actually be a dying breed. Statistics show fewer Americans smoke, and those who do, smoke less.

In 2011, 19 percent of adult Americans, or 43.8 million, were current cigarette smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is down from 22.3 percent in 2002. For the past several years, the percentage of those who smoke has been hovering over 20 per- cent.

Rivera said she believes smoking is still a serious public health issue.

“It seems to be the easiest thing to get… especially parents who smoke around their kids making it seem like it’s an okay thing to do, which it’s not,” she said.

“Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered,” reads the CVS website. “This is the right thing to do.”

“I hope everything progresses and soon enough, nobody wants to sell tobacco anymore,” Rivera said.

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