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Article 7Earlier this year, the national drug store chain CVS announced its plans to phase out all sales of tobacco products and instead work more closely with health care providers to serve as their pharmacy of choice for various systems. At the time, CVS predicted revenue losses of about $2 billion. Yet for CVS, the choice was more than a financial one; it was a moral and a strategic decision. The company struggled to reconcile its desired positioning as a health care company with its continued sale of tobacco. Confident in its planned decision, a month earlier than it anticipated, CVS removed the last remaining nicotine products from its shelves.

With the inventory shift, the chain also undertook a rebranding to become CVS Health. An in-store campaign featured “Ready to quit?” posters, in partnership with the American Lung Association. Furthermore, the company promised to continue working to expand its walk-in clinic services and pharmacy management practices.

But all these months later, CVS still remains alone in its choice. No other major drug store chains have followed suit, nor have grocers such as Walmart and Kroger. The largest drug store chain in the nation, Walgreens released a statement in which it claimed that retail drug stores were responsible for a mere 4 percent of the tobacco sold, so eliminating the products from its shelves “would have little to no significant impact on actually reducing the use of tobacco.”

Discussion Question:

  1.  Why did CVS stop selling tobacco?
  2. Should pharmacies sell tobacco?


Source: Tom Ryan, Retail Wire, September 9, 2014