CVS has finally made good on its promise (threat?) to stop selling cigarettes, in an effort to brand itself less as a large-scale corporate bodega and more as a pharmacy and storefront healthcare center.
As of midnight Tuesday, all 7,700 of the chain's stores ceased their sale of tobacco products, the Times reports, not because CVS particularly cares about your health, but because there are lucrative opportunities to be found by gaining a hold in the growing healthcare industry enabled by the Affordable Care Act.
Because of this increased emphasis on health, CVS opted to ax tobacco products to cut down on the cognitive dissonance customers might feel when visiting one of its 900 walk-in "minute clinics" for basic medical services like flu shots. It has also given itself a new name: CVS Health. Go catch cancer somewhere else.
“Think of it this way: Would you find cigarette machines or retail stores in the gift shops in a hospital selling cigarettes? Of course not,” Nancy Copperman, the corporate director of public health initiatives for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, told the paper. “I think it does give them a leg up.”
CVS competitors Walmart and Walgreens, however, have no plans to cease selling cigarettes, and a Rite Aid spokesperson said "they will continue to evaluate" their products.
The company announced in February that it would quit selling tobacco products by October, a decision it estimated would cost around $2 billion. Of course, the financial setback is relatively slight compared to the profits it expects to reap from the expanded healthcare offering: CVS anticipates that it will grow to nearly $90 billion this year, an increase of $30 billion over the past three years.
CVS no longer sells cigarettes! Things certainly are changing!
— Normal Guy (@NormalTweetGuy) September 3, 2014