Ending Sales of Tobacco Products in Pharmacies

Ending the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies is an important next step in reducing morbidity and mortality from tobacco use in America.

The Issue:

In this opinion article, Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, of CVS Caremark, and Steven A. Schroeder, MD, of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, share how ending sales of tobacco products in pharmacies is an important next step in reducing morbidity and mortality from tobacco use in America. Tobacco use remains a critical public health challenge in the United States. As public health campaigns have worked to stigmatize smoking, pharmacies—places to purchase medicines to help patients become well—have ironically, yet successfully, sold tobacco products.

In 2010 the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to discontinue tobacco product sales, and suggested state pharmacy boards discontinue issuing and renewing license of pharmacies that sell these products. Complementing this urging, the authors explore the ways in which the pharmacy’s role is changing, moving from a retail outlet to a retail health clinic.

CVS Caremark believes that now is the time for retailers, perhaps spurred by policy-makers, to eliminate sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products by institutions that also have pharmacies.

Conclusion:

The authors discuss CVS Caremark’s decision of foregoing financial gain from tobacco products by ceasing tobacco sales in a phased approach over the next year. They suggest that the time is appropriate for other retailers with pharmacies, as well, to eliminate sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products, arguing that the goal of better health and a commitment to health care is compromised through the selling of tobacco products.