A Year Later, CVS Shares Data on Tobacco Removal

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — One year after removing tobacco products from its shelves, sales of these products are down across retail channels, according to CVS Health Corp. data released Thursday.

According to a study conducted by the CVS Health Research Institute, cigarette pack purchases at convenience stores, gas stations, drugstores, grocery stores, big-box stores and dollar stores declined by 1 percent in the eight months after the retailer removed tobacco sales in states where CVS/pharmacy had a 15-percent or greater share of the retail pharmacy market, compared to states with no CVS/pharmacy stores.

The study also revealed during the same eight-month timeframe, the average smoker in these states where CVS has a large presence purchased five fewer cigarette packs.

In total, approximately 95 million fewer packs of cigarettes were sold.

“We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit — and that half of smokers try to quit each year. We also know that cigarette purchases are often spontaneous. And so we reasoned that removing a convenient location to buy cigarettes could decrease overall tobacco use," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer, CVS Health. "This new data demonstrates that CVS Health's decision to stop selling tobacco did indeed have a real public health impact."

Not only are tobacco purchases going down, but nicotine patch sales are also increasing, the CVS Health Research Institute data revealed. In those states where CVS/pharmacy has a market share of 15 percent or more, nicotine patch purchases increased by 4 percent in the period immediately following the end of its tobacco sales, the study concluded.

Woonsocket-based CVS Health Corp. operates 7,800 retail pharmacies nationwide.

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