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CVS Tobacco Ban a Sign of the Times?

A shift in strategy could spur more changes.

CVS Caremark announced yesterday that they will stop selling tobacco products in their stores. This change, effective October 1, 2014, will affect all 7,400 CVS Caremark stores across the United States, representing about $1.5 billion worth of sales in tobacco products each year.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

Merlo continued, “As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we’re taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace.”

What do we think about the CVS ban on tobacco?


Well played, CVS. We commend your decision to put your customers’ wellness before your company’s profits!

Lung cancer, just one of the complications associated with the use of tobacco products, is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. The American Society of Clinical Oncology estimates that in 2013 alone, nearly 230,000 adults were diagnosed with lung cancer. Add that to about 375,000 Americans living with lung cancer, and you have a pretty grim picture.

Until this point, pharmacists’ role in supporting patients with conditions like lung cancer has consisted mostly of helping manage medications during the treatment process. Perhaps some forward-thinking pharmacists were also offering lifestyle coaching or tobacco cessation programs.

CVS’ bold move goes much further, positioning pharmacies and pharmacists to help prevent disease by eliminating the sale of tobacco at their stores.

As America works to reform our health care system, this is the type of stance and action that key players on the health care team will be challenged to take.

At Parata, we encourage our employees to make healthy choices by providing a price differential on insurance premiums for being tobacco-free. We also cover the cost of tobacco cessation programs to support employees who want to quit.

As a technology partner to pharmacies, we provide tools that empower pharmacists to take an active, personal role in patient care so they can play a critical part in keeping patients healthy — even before disease starts.

And we can’t help but wonder: will other pharmacies follow suit?

Tell us: do you sell tobacco products in your pharmacy? Will you continue? And if so, why?

For more information about CVS’ decision, read the full press release from CVS Caremark.

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