By Mark Fowser & AP reports 7:13am, February 5, 2014 - Updated 2:46pm, February 5, 2014
AP File PhotoA former Delaware-based pharmacy chain executive says CVS deserves a lot of credit for making its bold move to phase out sales of tobacco products.
The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide by Oct. 1 as it continues to focus more on health care.
Delaware Economic Development Secretary Alan Levin, whose Happy Harry's chain was sold to Walgreens, says he often received questions about why it sold cigarettes and tobacco while promoting good health and welfare elsewhere in the stores.
"And the theory was, quite frankly, you didn't want to inconvenience a customer. And you wanted a customer to be able to get what they wanted. I think the tide has changed. And CVS deserves a lot of credit for the way they've gone," Levin told WDEL News.
Delaware's Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay also applauds the move by CVS. She says tobacco remains our number-one killer.
CVS Caremark Corp. and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores for several years. Their pharmacists deliver flu shots and other immunizations, and their clinics also have been expanding the care they deliver.
The move will cost the Woonsocket, R.I., company about $2 billion in annual revenue. But CVS executives expect it to also help the health care business grow.
Obama praises CVS
President Barack Obama is praising CVS Caremark for its decision to stop selling tobacco products at its drugstores.
Obama says CVS is setting a "powerful example," and says the decision will help his administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease and bring down health care costs.
Obama is a former cigarette smoker. First lady Michelle Obama said in 2011 that her husband had finally kicked the habit.
Obama, in a statement released Wednesday by the White House, says CVS new policy "will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country."
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.