CVS says its decision a year ago to stop selling tobacco products has helped reduce overall cigarette purchases by 95 million packs in states where it has stores.
CVS Health Research Institute conducted a study that saw an additional 1 percent reduction over the last year in cigarette pack sales in states where CVS pharmacy had a 15 percent or greater share of the retail pharmacy market, compared to states with no CVS pharmacy stores.
Over the same eight-month period, the study found that the average smoker in these states purchased five fewer cigarette packs, in total, approximately 95 million fewer packs.
“We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit — and that half of smokers try to quit each year,” CVS Health Chief Medical Office Troyen Brennan said in a news release. “We also know that cigarette purchases are often spontaneous. And so we reasoned that removing a convenient location to buy cigarettes could decrease overall tobacco use."
According to CVS, it worked.
"This new data demonstrates that CVS Health’s decision to stop selling tobacco did indeed have a real public health impact,” Brennan said.
The data has prompted health groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association to call on other retailers to follow CVS and ban tobacco.
“Today's announcement is precisely the type of strategic initiative we need to create a tobacco-free generation,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. “The effect of these efforts on reducing heart disease and stroke is tremendous. Imagine the impact on our nation’s health if other companies were to follow CVS Health’s lead and embrace a similar commitment to health.”
In addition to pressuring other retailers, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is urging parents and other consumers concerned about health to only patronize stores that refuse to sell tobacco products. The group has even launched a website to help consumers locate 25 tobacco-free retail chains that have nearly 14,000 separate store locations across the country.