CVS Corporation Will Forego $2 Billion and Quit Selling Cigarettes: The True Cost of Smoking

CVS no tobacco cigarettes
CVS Caremark Corporation has made the decision to quit selling cigarettes and other tobacco related products beginning October 1, 2014. This will cost the company an estimated $1.5 billion in lost cigarette sales, and another $500 million in lost sales of tobacco related products. While this is a large amount of money to willingly give up, CVS is doing so in order to better position itself as a health-oriented store. The company felt that cigarettes were inconsistent with the image that they were trying to portray. They will be the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco and tobacco related products.

In conjunction with the phasing out of tobacco products, CVS also announced that they will be offering smoking cessation programs across the nation this spring. These programs will provide information about treatments which can help those who want to stop smoking. CVS will continue to sell smoking cessation products including nicotine patches and nicotine gum.

For those who do smoke, there is no better time to quit. It’s well known that there are many long-term health risks that tobacco use causes. In addition, there are significant financial costs that come with the habit (although there can be costs associated with quitting as well).

Most people calculate the cost of smoking as the cost of purchasing cigarettes, but the truth is that cigarettes are only a tiny portion of the overall cost of this habit. In addition to the cost of the tobacco, there are additional costs for auto, health and life insurance. Smoking also devalues assets like cars, furniture and houses. The below infographic gives a much better look at the true financial impact that smoking has (click on image to expand the inforgraphic):

Cost of Smoking Infographic
If those two reasons aren’t enough, you can go through the long list of 97 reasons to quit. In the end, however, there will only be one reason that will actually get you to quit. That is if you actually want to.

While CVS halting cigarette sales may not seem like it would be a big deal since cigarettes and tobacco related products will still be available at many other retail outlets, it’s a much bigger step than most might think. There has been a number of studies that show that simply making cigarettes a bit less accessible can have a measurable effect on those who smoke. This is especially true for children. For instance, studies show that having to travel two extra blocks to buy cigarettes can deter someone from buying. Canada was able to reduce cigarette sales by doing nothing more than requiring stores to place them under the counter and out of sight of the customers.

The move by CVS is also a step that the tobacco industry has feared for a long time. It will become even more of a concern if other retail outlets decide to follow the CVS lead. Anti-tobacco groups are hoping that other drug stores like Walgreens, which makes significant donations to the Cancer Society, will be the next to make a similar announcement.

(Photo courtesy of Philip Tellis)

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