CVS Dominates headlines by pulling cigarettes

When our PR leader Scott Tattar calls it “one of the best PR moves in recent memory,” you know it’s big.

On February 5th CVS Caremark, national drugstore leader in both overall and pharmaceutical sales, announced the cessation of their cigarette sales. The company will remove all cigarettes from their 7,600 stores nationwide starting October 1st of this year. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting,” said President/CEO Larry Merlo. He notes that it is “inconsistent” to sell tobacco products as a store that thrives on helping customers create and maintain healthier lifestyles.

It is predicted that their overall sales of $123 billion will only be affected by approximately $2 billion, with this number including products that go in tandem with cigarettes, such as lighters and gum.

News of CVS Caremark is being received very well on many different platforms. The company has received a huge outpour of support from businesses, organizations, and individuals alike.

The company’s official Twitter account (@CVSCaremarkFYI) has been tweeting and retweeting about the announcement since it was made, receiving nods from the likes of Bill Gates, the American Lung Association, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

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President Obama even published a statement to demonstrate his support of the groundbreaking initiative.

CVS Caremark also launched a separate Twitter account two days prior to its announcement, CVS in the Community (@CVSInAction). Followers of this account can track how the company will “help people on their path to better health and support #communityhealth through charitable giving, volunteerism and partnerships in our local communities.” Undoubtedly, initiatives against smoking will frequently be highlighted on this feed.

The social responsibility shown by CVS Caremark is incredibly admirable. We hope these healthy initiatives will spread, especially in conjunction with the FDA’s plans for a new campaign specifically targeting youth tobacco use.

(This post was written by Ellie Paparone, PR intern and senior at Saint Joseph’s University.)