Officials from Walgreen and Rite Aid say the retailers will not emulate CVS Health's decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Background on CVS's decision to go tobacco-free
In February, CVS became the first major pharmacy to announce that it would stop selling tobacco products in its stores by Oct. 1. In addition, CVS said it planned to launch an in-store and online anti-smoking campaign.
Last week, the company changed its name to CVS Health and stopped selling tobacco products in all 7,700 of its stores.
Details of Walgreen statement
According to Forbes, Walgreen decided not to pull tobacco products from its shelves because it does not think retailers are to blame for Americans' tobacco use. In a statement, the company said, "Retail pharmacies comprise only 4% of all overall tobacco sales" and that a "retail pharmacy ban on tobacco sales would have little-to-no significant impact on actually reducing the use of tobacco."
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Instead, the pharmacy chain says it will increase promotion of its smoking cessation programs.
Similarly, Rite Aid spokesperson Ashley Flower says the company will keep tobacco products on its shelves. "We will continue to evaluate the products and services we offer in our stores as we move forward as a company," Flower said in a statement (Japsen, Forbes, 9/4; Britt, "MarketWatch," Wall Street Journal, 9/3).
Beyond the clinics: What the retail movement really means
Rob Lazerow, Practice Manager
"Retail" is one of the hottest buzzwords in health care right now. With CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart all investing in health care delivery models, it sometimes seems like there’s a new retail clinic on every street corner, and my colleagues and I often get calls from Health Care Advisory Board members who want to talk about their "retail strategy."