The area behind the registers at CVS stores just got a healthy makeover. Today, the retail giant removed cigarettes from its 7,700 locations, becoming the first pharmacy chain to snuff out smokes from its shelves nationwide.
Back in February, CVS announced plans to remove cigs and other tobacco products from all stores by October 1 and the change came nearly a month ahead of schedule. Now, CVS will sell more nicotine-replacement products behind the checkout (where it will advertise that cigarettes are no longer sold) and will launch a smoking cessation program next year, Time.com reports. CEO Larry Merlo told the Wall Street Journal that the company has no plans to sell e-cigarettes because it wouldn't be "consistent" with the new initiative.
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It's the biggest move to extinguish cigarettes by any retailer since Target stopped selling the stuff back in 1996. To affirm its commitment to healthier choices, the company has also changed its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking rates among U.S. adults have fallen from 20.9% in 2005 to 18.1% in 2012. Still, smoking is a preventable risk factor for disease. It's been tied to everything from lung cancer to heart disease, so the more retail chains that can make a stand like CVS the better.
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CVS' competitors Walgreens and Rite Aid still sell tobacco products, though both retailers have said they're evaluating what's best for customers, according to CNN. But these companies can't sell cigarettes in certain cities, thanks to local policies. In 2008, San Francisco passed the first-ever law to ban the sale of tobacco products in stores considered to be pharmacies—that includes Walgreens, Rite Aid, even Walmart. Boston passed its own law in 2009, and 80 cities and towns in Massachusetts also have a ban in place.
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Let's hope the move from CVS will inspire some people to put out their cigarettes for good.