CVS, a fixture in communities across Rhode Island, saw some major changes on Wednesday.
Tobacco sales at the Woonsocket-based pharmacy chain were officially ended, a move that comes ahead of schedule based on plans the company had announced earlier this year. In addition, it was announced that the entity’s corporate name would now be “CVS Health.”
“For our patients and customers, health is everything and CVS Health is changing the way health care is delivered to increase access, lower costs and improve quality,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO, said in a press release.
CVS had previously targeted Oct. 1 as the end date for tobacco sales when the plan was announced in February. The company is the first national pharmacy chain to cease the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“By eliminating cigarettes and tobacco products from sale in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans,” Merlo said in the release.
“The sale of tobacco in a retail pharmacy conflicts with the purpose of the health care services delivered there,” Troyen A. Brennan, the company’s chief medical officer, said in the same release. “Even more important, there is evidence developing that indicates that removing tobacco products from retailers with pharmacies will lead to substantially lower rates of smoking with implications for reducing tobacco-related deaths.”
In addition to announcing the end of tobacco sales, CVS also announced the launch of the CVS Health smoking cessation program.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in the CVS release called on all retailers involved in providing health care to also stop selling tobacco products.
“Today should mark a call to action by all retailers involved in health care,” said Matthew L. Myers, the group’s president. “We urge other retailers with pharmacies to follow the powerful example set by CVS/pharmacy and end tobacco sales.”
CVS Health encompasses several aspects of the company’s overall operations. It includes the retails side of the business, which will continue to be known as CVS/pharmacy.
According to information provided by CVS, the company currently has 7,700 retail pharmacies and 900 walk-in medical clinics.