Thursday, April 26, 2018
Business

Questions and answers on the CVS decision to stop selling tobacco products

Why did CVS decide to stop selling tobacco products?

"We've come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered," said CVS CEO Larry Merlo.

What happens when my local CVS runs out of its current stock of cigarettes?

That's not exactly clear. CVS said all of its stores would stop selling tobacco products by Oct. 1. It did not answer questions Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Times about the logistics of making that happen.

Will CVS still sell nicotine gum and patches?

Yes. Company officials said they are an important part of smoking cessation programs.

What about e-cigarettes?

CVS does not sell electronic cigarettes, the popular but debated devices that deliver nicotine without tobacco and emit a rapidly vanishing vapor instead of smoke. It said it was waiting for guidance on the devices from the FDA, which has expressed interest in regulating e-cigarettes.

Could beer, wine and fatty foods be next?

Unlikely. Merlo said, "When you look at a bar of chocolate, a bag of chips, a glass of wine, those items taken in moderation or used occasionally do not have the effects that the occasional use of tobacco has. There is nothing safe about using tobacco."

CVS said its move is an "important step to curtail tobacco use.'' How is that so?

Troyen A. Brennan, the executive vice president and chief medical officer for CVS, said, "It's obvious that the average person will just find somewhere else to buy cigarettes. What we're thinking about is if others want to emulate this business decision we've made, then over time that will make cigarettes less available — and scientific literature does suggest that a reduction in the availability of cigarettes reduces smoking."

Eric Buhi, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of community and family health in USF College of Public Health, said, "There is substantial evidence from studies conducted in several states that restricting access to tobacco, by increasing prices and restricting sales to certain age groups, was found to be effective in reducing smoking in adolescents and adults."

What will be the impact on the tobacco industry?

On its own, the CVS move won't hurt cigarette companies much. Drugstores overall account for only 4 percent of cigarettes sold. By comparison, gas stations generate nearly half of those sales.

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Published: 04/25/18