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Obama Applauds CVS for Stopping Sales of Cigarettes and Tobacco Products

7:10 AM, Feb 5, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama, an ex-smoker, released this statement applauding CVs for stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products:

"I applaud this morning’s news that CVS Caremark has decided to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores, and begin a national campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking instead.  As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will 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.  I congratulate – and thank – the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors, and all who helped make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country."

The Washington Post reports on the big move by CVS:

Pharmacy chain CVS said Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations across the United States, a move that public health advocates hope will become a watershed and pressure other large drug store franchises to follow suit.

CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further evolve their pharmacies into full-fledged health care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers.  Its stores already are home to over 750 MinuteClinics, the country's largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics, where ordinary Americans can get flu shots or check out earaches and sore throats. 

"An important and growing part of our business is the work we do with clients and health insurance plans," CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes said in an interview Tuesday. "As we thought about supporting their goals about improving outcomes and lowering costs, we believe that's the future we're looking towards. As we become more connected to their health care work, this is an important decision for us to make."

The company plans to phase out all tobacco sales by October 1, 2014 and  expects it could lose approximately $2 billion in annual revenue generated both by tobacco sales and other products purchased by the same shoppers. The pharmacy chain generates approximately $125 billion in revenue annually.

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