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CVS Health marks anniversary of no tobacco


A year after deciding to end tobacco sales, CVS Health on Thursday released new data from a CVS Health Research Institute study that shows a reduction in cigarette purchases over the past year.

The study tracked cigarette pack purchases at drug, food, big box, dollar, convenience and gas station retailers in the eight months after CVS/pharmacy stopped selling tobacco products, according to the company, and found a 1% reduction in cigarette pack sales in states where CVS/pharmacy had a 15% or greater share of the retail pharmacy market. Over the same eight-month period, the average smoker in these states purchased five fewer cigarette packs, and approximately 95 million fewer packs were sold.

“One year ago, we stopped selling tobacco products because it conflicted with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health, said. “Today, we are excited to release new data demonstrating the positive impact our decision has had on public health overall as shown by a measurable decrease in the number of cigarette purchases across all retailers.”

The study also revealed a 4% increase in nicotine patch purchases in the states with a CVS/pharmacy market share of 15% of more.

Since CVS removed tobacco products from shelves, the average number of MinuteClinic “Start to Stop” smoking cessation visits per month nearly doubled, according to the company. CVS pharmacists counseled more than 260,000 patients about smoking cessation and filled nearly 600,000 nicotine replacement therapy prescriptions. The company also distributed millions of smoking cessation informational brochures and hundreds of thousands of “Last Pack” toolkits, and educated more than 1 million people via its Online Cessation Hub on

“We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit — and that half of smokers try to quit each year,” Brennan said. “We also know that cigarette purchases are often spontaneous. And so we reasoned that removing a convenient location to buy cigarettes could decrease overall tobacco use. This new data demonstrates that CVS Health’s decision to stop selling tobacco did indeed have a real public health impact.”

CVS Health has also pledged more than $1 million in corporate grants to tobacco cessation and prevention programs such as Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Stand Up To Cancer and American Lung Association’s LungForce, and announced it will launch a school-based tobacco-prevention program with its foundation and Scholastic.

“Today, we are proud to mark our one-year anniversary by building on our commitment to be a meaningful part of the effort to make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy at CVS Health and president of the CVS Health Foundation. By partnering with an expert partner in education to launch this new program, we will reach millions of kids across the country with critical tobacco-prevention education.”

The program targets nearly three million children in grades three, four and five, with a second component offered in some pilot markets for students in grades six and seven for early 2016. The middle school component will also include a student engagement program, with the chance to receive incentives such as scholarships and youth-focused community training.

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