“They don’t make much money on tobacco, but it does draw people into the store,” said Craig R. Johnson, president of the retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners.
CVS CEO Larry Merlo said the company concluded it could no longer sell cigarettes in a setting where health care also is being delivered. CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen A. Brennan said the presence of tobacco in its stores has made for some awkward conversations as CVS continues working towards teaming up with hospital groups and doctor practices.
“One of the first questions they ask us is, ‘Well, if you’re going to be part of the health care system, how can you continue to sell tobacco products?’” said Dr. Brennan.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on others to follow the CVS example.
“We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to take tobacco products out of the hands of America’s younger generation, and to help those who are addicted to quit,” she said in a statement.