Former CVS Cigarette Buyers Speak Up in New Survey

MIAMI — Since the CVS/pharmacy drugstore chain stopped selling tobacco products, gas stations have become the No. 1 tobacco purchasing destination for former CVS tobacco customers, according to a commissioned study released by electronic cigarette and vaporizer manufacturer V2. 

The study, fielded Feb. 8-12, surveyed 300 smokers who previously purchased cigarettes from a CVS location before the company's fall 2014 decision to exit the tobacco business.

According to the findings, 39 percent are now buying cigarettes at gas stations. Finishing in a second-place tie were Walmart and Walgreens, at 20 percent each. 7-Eleven convenience stores, which was categorized separately from gas stations, finished in a third-place tie with a “local store (not part of a chain),” both at 8 percent.

Meanwhile, 7 percent of the respondents said they now purchase cigarettes at dollar stores, while 3 percent buy tobacco products at Rite Aid drugstores.

“Gas stations, in our survey, covers a wide range of c-store retailers and brick-and-mortar brands,” said Adam Kustin, vice president of marketing at V2. “It’s no secret that most cigarettes are sold in this channel. With CVS halting its sales, c-stores are getting additional customers. Another factor to consider is that gas prices across the country are at a 10-year low, meaning stations are seeing more business and transaction volume, with cigarette sales getting a boost secondarily.”

Despite finding other outlets for their tobacco purchases, 52 percent of respondents said CVS’ decision to cease cigarette sales has impacted their ability to purchase cigarettes regularly.

Among this group, 27 percent responded that buying cigarettes is “much harder” now, while 73 percent called the impact manageable and stated that “buying cigarettes is now harder, but I have other options.” The other 48 percent of those surveyed said CVS' decision had little impact on their cigarette purchases.

When asked their opinion on CVS' decision, one-third said they disagree with the move, while one-quarter said they agree. However, the highest percentage are on the fence; 43 percent said they're neutral on the decision.

For those who disagree with CVS' move, a significant majority do so because they believe cigarettes were being unfairly targeted by CVS. Eighty-three percent agreed with the statement: “CVS sells other products — like alcohol and candy — that are bad for you and cigarettes shouldn’t be singled out.”

For those who agree with CVS’ decision, 60 percent said CVS sells health products and thus cigarette sales simply “didn’t make sense.” Another 36 percent said they thought the move “could help to reduce cigarette smoking” more broadly.

Miami-based V2 is a division of VMR Products. 

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