CVS Pharmacy to ban cigarette sales

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - CVS Pharmacy is trying to help millions of Americans stop smoking by no longer selling cigarettes and tobacco products. The major U.S. pharmacy made their announcement on Wednesday, but the news comes as no surprise to the owner of a local tobacco store.

"Cigarettes don't sell as well as they used to as well as all tobacco products, so them dispensing with it is not really going to be a dramatic change in the neighborhoods," said Frank Williams, owner of Smokey's Tobacco and Beer in Gulfport.

Williams said since 1998, he has about 30 percent less customers that buy cigarettes, and with big anti-tobacco pushes like CVS's recent move, he can see a time when Smokey's may no longer carry smokes.

"There is a tipping point. Any business has a tipping point to where it's not profitable enough to be in business."

CVS's decision falls in line with positions taken by the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Pharmacists Association that oppose the sale of tobacco in stores that also have pharmacies

"We applaud CVS for its leadership and encourage other industry leaders to follow suit," said Mallory Hill, Senior Representative for the Gulf Coast Branch of the American Cancer Society.

Hill says they have shown that restricted access to tobacco has had an effect on smoking rates.

"I think that with the recent 50th anniversary of the surgeon general's warning, people really are taking a closer look like CVS are really stepping up this time. So, I think if everyone else could follow suit, we will be heading in the right direction."

Representatives with CVS Pharmacy say this is the first step toward supporting the health and well being of its patients, and they plan to begin a national anti-smoking program. Their nearly 8,000 stores won't completely stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products until October 1, 2014.

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