The drugstore chain CVS announced this week that it will drop all tobacco products from its stores before the end of the year, making it the first U.S. drugstore chain to voluntarily remove cigarettes and related products. It promises to remove cigarettes and other items from its 7,600 U.S. stores by October.
“Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. This is the right thing to do,” President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement on Wednesday.
(RELATED: How to quit smoking)
Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 lives each year in the United States, according to the American Lung Association. While smoking rates have steadily declined in recent years, it is considered a major preventable cause of disease and premature death.
A study published last month found that “third-hand smoke,” or exposure to surfaces and objects that have absorbed cigarette smoke, may be as toxic as actually smoking a cigarette.
CVS expects to lose about $2 billion in annual sales as a result of its decision, a minor impact given that the company’s predicted revenue in 2014 is $132.9 billion, according to a Reuters report.
CVS isn’t the first retailer to stop selling tobacco products: Target stores dropped them in 1996, followed by Wegmans supermarkets in 2008, and some cities, like New York City, ban their sale in pharmacies. It remains to be seen if other drugstore franchises like Walgreens will follow suit.
A promising step by CVS, it’s ultimately up to individuals to decide whether to kick the smoking habit. For information about making behavior changes that stick, check out these Experience Life articles:
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