CVS Announces Tobacco Ban. What’s Next?

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If you haven’t heard, CVS/Pharmacy will be the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, come October 1. Being the largest pharmacy chain in America, this is a bold move by CVS. According to, CVS estimates it will take a $2 billion annual loss, $1.5 being directly from tobacco sales and the rest from products that tobacco shoppers buy while in store. Why is CVS taking this money-making killer off the shelves? Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

While I commend CVS for being mindful of public health, I can’t help but wonder how its loyal customers will react. Will they respect the ban or will they boycott CVS forever? As you can imagine, this is getting A TON of attention from the media. Many people support the tobacco ban while others stick to the argument that “it’s a free country and I have the right to harm my own body.” Despite your feelings toward the decision, it raises the question: “First Tobacco, then what?”

Derrick Jackson from the Boston Globe says if CVS is going to stop selling cigarettes due to tobacco’s link to cancer, it should stop selling soda or other sugary products that contribute to obesity. Yes, sugar is linked to a plethora of scary health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity, but does that mean CVS should get rid of its entire snack isle? It’s hard to say.

Jackson says “Besides soda behind the counter, candy, chips, and other trash food should be removed from the front of the store to prevent impulse buys. Products with added sugars surpassing 10 percent of calorie intake should have big warning signs that they can contribute to heart disease.”

Jackson’s proposal sounds good in theory, but I can’t help but picture a store where EVERYTHING is behind the counter, and you have to ask the store clerk to get your Snickers bar out from lock and key. Can you imagine how annoying that would be? When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer in moderation, and if I want to indulge once in a while I shouldn’t have to ask for the store clerk’s permission.

I see both sides of the argument, and I think CVS is entering  dangerous territory. It will be interesting to see if they fall down the slippery slope and put soda and other sugary products behind the counter, or if they will stop after the tobacco ban.

Do you think banning cigarettes is enough? Should CVS take it a step further and keep high-sugar items out of reach for kids? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


One thought on “CVS Announces Tobacco Ban. What’s Next?

    emilyscher said:
    February 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I am all for the cigarette ban and I think it will only encourage other businesses to do the same. However, I do not believe they need to take it any further. I agree with you that sugary foods should be consumed in moderation and I think this differs from cigarettes because I believe that cigarettes should not be consumed at all and that they pose a much higher health risk as well as addiction. I can only hope that CVS will be the start of a trend with other pharmacies 🙂

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