ALBANY, N.Y. - Smokers will soon have one less place to buy cigarettes after CVS announced it will stop selling all tobacco products by October 1.
This is a move the pharmacy chain says will help curb smoking and ultimately save lives.
CVS Caremark announced it will stop selling all tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide. The nation's second-largest drugstore chain plans to phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, as a way to focus more on health care.
CVS sells roughly $1.5 billion in tobacco each year.
Officials at CVS say selling cigarettes at a pharmacy, which dispenses medications to treat many smoking-related illnesses, sends an inconsistent message.
Larry Merlo, President & CEO, CVS said in an online statement, "Every day, we are helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. All of these conditions are made worse by smoking. Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered."
Dan Moran chair of the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee, and a former smoker himself, said pharmacies selling cigarettes should have been banned back with the Marlboro Man.
"The more places tobacco is available, the more people will smoke, so I think it's good," he said.
However, not everyone agrees with Moran, including Akehaton Bradford.
"I'm a smoker myself, so I feel disappointed, because now I have to go different places looking for cigarettes."
Other pharmacies are expected to eventually follow suit, and some cities in California and Massachusetts have already banned tobacco sales at all pharmacies. CVS expects to lose about $2 billion in sales annually.
Local lawmakers largely agree with CVS stopping tobacco sales, including Albany County Legislator Tim Nichols and Democratic Assemblyman and pharmacy owner John McDonald, who has not sold cigarette's at Marra's pharmacy in over 25 years.