CVS Caremark announced on Feb. 5 that it will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products, making it the first major pharmaceutical chain to do so.
According to a representative, CVS based this decision off of its customers’ expectations as well as ongoing health concerns. CVS said it will stop tobacco sales on Oct. 1. This decision will cost them about $2 billion a year and about 3 percent of their sales.
Some cities in California and Massachusetts have already banned tobacco sales at all pharmacies. In the future, other pharmacies are expected to follow in CVS’s footsteps. Representatives for Rite Aid say they are continuing to evaluate the issue, but they are primarily focused on the needs and interests of their customers.
In my opinion, CVS made the right decision. Regardless of what some consumers and businesses thought, they stuck by their decision and responded to backlash in a timely manner. They released a statement on their Facebook page saying, “Today, we’ve announced that we are ending the sales of tobacco in all 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores by Oct. 1. As a health care company, it’s time for us to take a stand and to put our customers, colleagues and patients on a path to better health. Share this if you stand with us in our commitment to go tobacco-free.” Customers turned to Facebook to voice their opinions.
One commenter stated, “I will choose CVS over other stores because of this.” This particular comment racked up 2,807 likes, supporting the statement. Others have commented saying that CVS has lost their business, and they shouldn’t be making decisions for their customers.
I’m excited to see how this major change will affect CVS and the rest of the pharmacy chains in the future. While I believe people have the right to make their own decision, I hope more companies follow this example and put people’s health before profit. CVS may lose loyal consumers, but they also have created the potential to gain a whole new public.
By Julie Florence
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.