CVS Tobacco Sales Ban Takes Big Bite Out Of Cigarette Purchases In 13 States

The CVS tobacco sales ban put in place one year ago has taken a big bite out of the amount of cigarette packs sold in 13 states.

According to USA Today, 95 million fewer cigarette packs have been sold since the drugstore chose to stop selling tobacco. This number came from a CVS Health study released on Thursday. It compared totals sales of tobacco products from various stores in the “13 states where CVS has more than 15-percent of market share with sales in states that don’t have any CVS stores,” the report states.

The study was unveiled after CVS’ Health Research Institute evaluated cigarette pack purchases made at drugstores, grocery stores, mass merchandise, dollar stores, convenience stores, and gas station stores eight months after CVS halted their sales of tobacco products.

In that eight months, the average smoker in those states actually purchased five fewer cigarette packs. The study concluded that about 95 million cigarette fewer packs were sold, which came to a 1 percent decrease in the number of packs sold.

Another factor discovered in the CVS tobacco sales ban study was that a 4 percent increase in nicotine patch purchases in the 13 states during that eight months. The company says that this reveals “a positive effect on attempts to quit smoking.”

Funding will come from CVS to provide a new school-based tobacco prevention curriculum through Scholastic, a known textbook company.

In spite of the CVS tobacco study, the National Center for Public Policy Research isn’t so convinced that the company should take so much credit for the reduced sales in cigarettes.

Jeff Stier from the research organization argues what the results might be indicating.

“CVS only sold a very small percentage of the nation’s cigarettes to start with, and financial analysts have said the impact of CVS’ move wouldn’t have a major impact on smoking rates. But the bold claim that its decision to stop selling cigarettes actually got a significant number of smokers to just buy the mostly ineffective nicotine patches and quit smoking, only illustrates how little the company knows about the difficulty of quitting.”

It’s noted in the report that Stier’s organization receives 1.4 percent of its financial support from the tobacco and e-cigarette industry. Troyen Brennan, a physician who acts as CVS Health’s chief medical officer, defends the study.

“We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit – and that half of smokers try to quit each year. 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.”

Brennan adds that the CVS tobacco sales ban implemented in 2014 “did indeed have a real public health impact.”

Fox News reports that CVS has 7,800 retail pharmacies in the U.S.

[Photo Credit: Commons Wikimedia]