Thursday, February 6, 2014

CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes

CVS sees its future in making its in-store clinics a convenient health-care alternative to long waits at the doctor's office, along with CVS pharmacists counseling patients. That goal was increasingly at odds with racks of cigarettes, cigars and chewing-tobacco residing behind the cashier's counter, said Larry Merlo, chief executive, in an interview.

"Cigarettes have no place in an environment where health care is being delivered," said Mr. Merlo, a 58-year-old former pharmacist who became CEO of CVS Caremark in 2011. "This is the right decision at the right time as we evolve from a drugstore into a health-care company."

CVS has more than two dozen relationships with health systems across the U.S., including Cleveland Clinic and Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. But in the initial discussions, doctors immediately ask how CVS can still sell tobacco products, said Troyen A. Brennan, CVS Caremark's chief medical officer. "They're a little bit suspicious of us be cause we sell cigarettes," Dr. Brennan said. "This move gives us a competitive advantage because it shows our commitment to health care."

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