Tag Archives: CVS Pharmacy

CVS bailing on tobacco sales results in impressive drop in cigarette sales overall


Very interesting story. CVS Pharmacies about a year ago announced it would no longer be selling any tobacco products.

It’s just one drug store chain, right? No big deal, right? Well, it turns out that decision resulted in a 1 percent reduction in cigarette sales in 13 states … that’s 95 million packs of cigarettes. That means smokers weren’t just running to other outlets; it actually helped cut the number of cigarettes being sold.

Hey, you see 1 percent, I see 95 million packs of cigarettes. Every little bit helps. 95 million packs is 1 percent. That gives you a clue to the shocking amount of cigarettes still being sold in the U.S.

From a Washington Post article:

Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health, said many people thought that smokers would simply go elsewhere to buy cigarettes once the chain stopped selling them. “What this research shows is that we were right,” he said. By removing a convenient place to buy cigarettes, he said, “we had an overall impact on sales of tobacco products.”

CVS did its own study that showed the pharmacy chain once controlled 15 percent of the drug store tobacco sales market in 13 states.  Most of these states were in the Deep South.


From the Post article:

“I think people would be surprised that a single store, even one as large as CVS, could have a direct and measurable effect on tobacco use in the community in which it has a significant presence,” said Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

A 1 percent drop in sales may not seem like a big number, he said. “But given the number of smokers, it’s an extraordinary impact,” he said. He said the organization will be calling on other major retailers to take similar action.
I’m putting my money, as little as it is, where my mouth lies to the best of my ability. I go out of my way and buy all my allergy and sinus medication at CVS now.

CVS study on smoking cessation: When money is on the line, it encourages smokers to quit


CVS Pharmacies, which is well-known for pulling all tobacco products out of its chain of drug stores, recently helped with a study on smoking cessation with some interesting results.

Participants in the study were actually recruited by CVS, which apparently is very serious about combating tobacco use. Participants were offered a variety of incentives to quit smoking and one of the conclusions of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is that it appears that providing a financial incentive to quit worked much better than expected.

Smokers were given a choice of which program to participate in. One scenario had smokers give a $150 deposit, and they would receive their deposit back, plus a $650 bonus if they quit. The other simply offered an $800 payment if they quit.


Only a small percentage of people agreed to the deposit, but those that did were much more successful than the group vying for the $800 reward. So, the incentive of not wanting to lose money seemed to have more power than winning money you didn’t already have.

“People don’t want to part with their money,” Dr. Scott Halpern, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine who led the study, explained to NBC News. “Among those who would have accepted either program, the deposit-based programs were twice as effective as the rewards-based programs and five times more effective than the standard of care which was provision of free access to behavior modification therapy and nicotine replacement therapy.”

While overall, the financial reward/penalty group had a low rate of success in quitting smoking, it still had a higher success rate than people being offered Nicorette or nicotine patches.

CVS is going to put this idea into practice. The company will offer its employees a $700 bonus if they quit smoking (plus the return of a $50 deposit.).

More companies are providing financial incentives on health coverage for smokers to quit. Also, this someone backs up a point I’ve made for several years — one of the benefits of raising taxes on cigarettes (and one of the quiet benefits of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which helped raise the cost of cigarettes) is that it does work to encourage smokers to quit. When smokers realize they’re spending $50-$100 or more a week on cigarettes, that’s a real-world incentive to quit.

CVS revenues soaring — despite ban on tobacco sales


This is an awesome story.

When CVS Pharmacies cut out tobacco sales, everyone fully expected the company’s revenues to drop, including CVS. Instead, the opposite has happened.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, the first full financial quarter after CVS banned tobacco sales, the company’s revenues didn’t go down, they went up 12.9 percent to a record $37.1 billion.

Apparently, one of the reasons for the increase in revenues was the Affordable Care Act.

From this Forbes article:

CVS, which stopped selling cigarettes and related products in September, previously generated an estimated $2 billion in annual tobacco sales. But sales in the pharmacy segment alone in the fourth quarter jumped 21.7 percent to $24 billion buoyed by an early flu season with an ineffective vaccine that caused flu victims to search CVS for other treatment options. CVS also saw increased paying customers under the Affordable Care Act.

The newly insured Obamacare customers and increased drug sales helped overcome a dip in revenue from the front-end of the store where customers used to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Also from the Forbes article:

The end of tobacco sales has improved the company’s image and helps in discussions attracting employers to its pharmacy networks and its prescription management business. In the fourth quarter, pharmacy benefit management sales were up 21.7 percent to nearly $24 billion.

The CVS decision has also put pressure on other retailers like Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and Wal-Mart (WMT). “It’s opening up some doors to some unique opportunities,” CVS CWO Larry Merlo told analysts.

Response to CVS Pharmacies ban on tobacco: Tom Brokaw intelligent, Fox News …. blathering idiots

gretchen carlson
Gretchen Carlson

Shaking my head at this one.

The Mensa crowd at Fox News blew a gasket when CVS Pharmacies announced it would not longer be selling tobacco products. First of all, Fox News tried to blame Barack Obama somehow for a private company’s decision not to sell a poisonous product because Obama had the audacity to (gasp!) express his support for the decision. On three separate occasions, Fox analysts used the CVS decision to attack Obama (Neil Cavuto claimed CVS was becoming “scaredy-cat” because of the ACA … that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense).

What’s interesting is Fox promotes free market capitalism pretty unabashedly. Well, here you have a company, making a decision of its own free will, to no longer sell a product — what is that? FREE MARKET CAPITALISM.

Even more ludicrous was a comment by Gretchen Carlson asking out loud if it was legal for CVS Pharmacies to not sell tobacco products since they are legal. “Is it OK legally … to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this?” she asked her guests.

Oh … my … freaking … God. Do they give IQ tests at Fox News? And then if you fail the test, you get the job?

There is no requirement anywhere that forces businesses to sell products they choose not sell? That would impinging on FREE MARKET CAPITALISM. My question to Gretchen. So, using your logic, are you saying that CVS Pharmacies should also be required to sell guns and vibrators? Since, these are both legal products? Just frightening how stupid these arguments become.

Tom Brokaw chimes in


Retired NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw had a — not surprisingly — much more intelligent response. In his op-ed piece, “Bravo, CVS, for banning tobacco products,” Brokaw admits he is a “cigarette scold,” who is not shy about confronting smokers about their habit (Personally, I don’t take it this far, unless smokers start telling me about their Aunt Mabel who smoked and lived to be 92.).

Brokaw says he feels this strongly partly because he counts 11 friends and family members who have been killed by tobacco, and partly because he is aware of the damage smoking does to health care costs.

Brokaw writes:

So I was thrilled to see that CVS — the giant pharmacy chain — announce it was going out of the cigarette business even though it meant a two billion dollar loss in sales. Two billion, with a “b.”

CVS is more and more in the health care business — providing vaccinations, clinics and the like — and selling cigarettes was not just inappropriate, but not good for the growing health care piece of their business plan.

Smokers will say they have a right to make their own decisions. We heard those same arguments about drinking and driving and about resisting seat belts. Think of how many lives and dollars the two changes in driving have saved.

I grew up in the smoking Fifties and couldn’t wait to graduate from high school sports to Lucky Strikes or whatever brand tobacco companies would distribute free to incoming freshmen classes.

 What madness.

So thank you, CVS for putting health, a national security issue, over profit.

You didn’t lose my cigarette business because I haven’t smoked in 45 years. But you did gain my admiration — and I now know where I’ll buy my toothpaste, razors, shampoo, cold tablets, cough drops, sunscreen and vitamin pills.


CVS Pharmacies to ban cigarette sales, other tobacco products


In the words of Joe Biden … this is a big fucking deal.

, the second biggest drug store chain in the country, will no longer sell any tobacco products in its 7,600 stores across the country. This means CVS will lose $2 billion a year in sales revenues … 1.6 percent of its total revenues every year. That’s a serious decision to just walk away from $2 billion a year retail.

Larry J. Merlo, the president and chief executive officer of CVS Caremark, said “As the delivery of healthcare evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care,” He added. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

From the L.A. Times:

Making cigarettes available in pharmacies in essence ‘renormalizes’ the product by sending the subtle message that it cannot be all that unhealthy if it is available for purchase where medicines are sold,” the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, wrote in a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. The article is co-authored by Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at UC San Francisco.

Walgreens is the largest drug store chain in the country. In response to the CVS decision, Walgreens issued a statement saying it is “reviewing” tobacco sales at its stores.

It is pretty bizarre that a drug store would be selling cigarettes, when that drug store is selling probably all kinds of drugs and treatments for COPD and various cancers caused by cigarette smoking.

A great move that I applaud.