WOONSOCKET, R.I., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Starting October 2014, CVS Caremark will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at more than 7,600 stores and pharmacies across the U.S., costing the company nearly $2 billion in annual revenue.
CVS will be the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products and said they are taking this step to help their customers stay healthy. According to the company, the sale of tobacco "is inconsistent with our purpose -- helping people on their path to better health."
"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," said Larry J. Merlo, CVS president and CEO.
The American Medical Association, American Cancer Society and American Pharmacists Association have all asked pharmacies not to sell tobacco products. Taking this move one step further, CVS will also initiate a national smoking cessation program to help smokers kick the habit.
The company estimates that it will lose around $2 billion in annual revenues and will impact 2014 earnings by around 19 cents a share. The company says it is exploring other opportunities to offset this loss, which may include expanding healthcare offerings at the company's more than 750 MinuteClinics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking tobacco causes more than 5 million deaths per year globally and this figure it set to jump to 8 million annually by 2030. The U.S. accounts for around 489,000 deaths, of which 49,000 are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.