In the fall of 2014, CVS Pharmacy discontinued stocking tobacco products as part of a public health initiative to prevent smoking. Many speculated that this decision would simply cause tobacco users to switch suppliers, but a recent study conducted and paid for by CVS and published by the American Public Health Association shows that CVS consumers who exclusively purchased cigarettes at their drug stores were 38 percent more likely to stop buying cigarettes.
Organizations like the American Lung Association attribute the reduction of smoking to the provision in the Affordable Care Act which enables insurance plans to cover some smoking cessation programs. This provision went into effect in early 2014, which coincides with the time period of the study conducted by CVS.
Current tobacco retailers like Walmart and Walgreens do not have similar policies, as they still sell tobacco products. However, these retailers have faced pressure from public health groups as well as from some government officials.
It should be noted that the study on the effects of CVS’ policy was paid for and conducted by the retailer itself; also, the study is not accessible for free so the full results are not available at the time of this writing. Reduction in cigarette sales after CVS’ decision may be due partially to the ACA’s smoking cessation insurance mandate, and partially due to the rise in popularity of electronic cigarettes, experts are divided on e-cigarettes’ impact on smoking habits.
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