The Obama administration on Wednesday praised CVS, after the pharmacy chain moved to discontinue nationwide the sale of tobacco products at its stores nearly a month earlier than previously announced.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement the company was "setting a powerful example that we hope others in the industry will follow" and praised the chain's decision to launch a program to support smokers who want to stop using tobacco products.


"CVS’s actions will not only help Americans across the country who are trying to quit smoking, it will also help ensure that when families go to their neighborhood pharmacy, they can get the information and support they need to live healthy lives, which can contribute to driving down health care costs," Earnest said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellPrice was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue Overnight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill ObamaCare enrollment hits 11.5M for 2017 MORE applauds CVS for accomplishing "their goal one month ahead of their deadline of October 1," she said in a statement.

"CVS Health’s tobacco free policy is an unprecedented step in the retail industry, and will have an impact in bringing our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation," Burwell said.

When CVS announced the move earlier this year, President Obama — who used to smoke himself — said the gesture would "help advance my administration’s 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."

Former press secretary Jay Carney joked at the time that he used to buy "a lot" of cigarettes at the pharmacy chain and saw the move as a "great thing."

"We obviously think this is an important decision because of the impact that smoking can have on the nation's health and on especially American children," Carney said. "So the president is, like I, a reformed smoker, and I think he recognizes, like everyone who's quit recognizes, it's not an easy thing to do, but it's the right thing to do for your own health, for your family and for the nation's health."