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CVS Pharmacy Quits Cigs and Tobacco

Updated: 02/05/2014 10:55 PM
Created: 02/05/2014 6:47 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

On Wednesday, leaders of CVS Pharmacy announced the company will halt tobacco sales nationwide by October. The change was meant to support health, but some customers said it is a big risk with competitors like Walgreens just across the street from many stores.

Some smokers said they will start shopping elsewhere.

“I can see both sides of the story, but, just being a smoker like I said, it's just an inconvenience and causes me to go to Walgreens rather than go to CVS,” Marcella Leske said.

In a Wednesday press release CVS announced the move will cost them $2 billion from shoppers like Leske.

“I can't see what they're going to offer in place of not having cigarettes. I mean it kind of takes out a big chunk of their business,” Leske said.

But CVS leaders said the pharmacy can find money in other health products. CVS is tossing tobacco to focus on health care according to President and CEO Larry Merlo.

“Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered, and when we asked ourselves where we expect to be in the future as a health care company it became clear that removing tobacco products from our stores is the right thing to do,” Merlso said.

That may be the marketing idea, but Leske said some shoppers might get a mixed message.

“For them wanting to compete so much with Walgreens and then put a CVS on every other corner. It just seems like that defeats the purpose,” Leske said.

There is a big showing of support online for CVS quitting cold turkey, but only time will tell if the company gets withdrawals.

A Walgreens spokesperson said the company is taking another look at tobacco products, but they have not made any changes to their sales policy. Walgreens wants to balance customer choice with their health needs.

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