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Brand compatibility leads CVS to snuff out store tobacco sales

CVS Caremark will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its stores by Oct. 1, making the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain in the first national pharmacy to pull tobacco products from its sales roster.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that CVS’s announcement follows years of branding initiatives to retool the mega-retailer not just as a drugstore chain, but as a health-care clinic that is an active player in its customers’ healthful lives, offering flu shots and basic care at its 800 MinuteClinics within its 7,600 stores. That rebranding had proved incompatible with the message that the cigarettes behind the front counters in most of its stores had seemed to send, the company said on Wednesday.

CVS says it will empty its store shelves of cigarettes and other tobacco products by Oct.1.

CVS says it will empty its store shelves of cigarettes and other tobacco products by Oct.1.

“Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose,” said Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, in a statement.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” he said.

The Department of Health and Human Services applauded CVS’s decision, describing Caremark Corp. as a leader in “helping to make the next generation tobacco-free.”

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