By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
A year after CVS Health Corp. stopped selling cigarettes at its drugstores, cigarette sales dropped across all retailers in 13 states, according to new data.
The study, conducted by CVS’ Health Research Institute, evaluated cigarette pack purchases at drug, food, mass merchandise, dollar, convenience and gas station retailers in the immediate eight months after CVS stopped selling tobacco products last September.
The CVS study found a 1 percent decrease in cigarette pack sales in 13 states where CVS has at least a 15 percent share of the retail pharmacy market, compared with states without CVS stores. The average smoker in states where CVS had a large presence bought five fewer packs of cigarettes, totaling about 95 million fewer packs sold during an eight-month period.
“One year ago, we stopped selling tobacco products because it conflicted with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., chief medical officer of CVS Health. “This new data demonstrates that CVS Health’s decision … did indeed have a real public health impact.”
The study also noted a 4 percent increase in nicotine patch purchases in those same 13 states in the month following the end of tobacco sales. The average number of smoking cessation counseling visits nearly doubled, the company said.
“The American Heart Association applauds CVS Health for its leadership in reducing access to tobacco products,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “CVS Health’s efforts over the last year have undoubtedly helped improve the lives of people in the communities it serves, exemplifying how one corporate commitment can transform public health.”
CVS has 7,800 retail pharmacies and is the second-largest manager of prescription drug benefits in the United States.
“We challenge others to follow CVS Health’s bold stand against tobacco and stand ready to support them in their efforts,” Brown said.