Obama Praises CVS for Pulling Tobacco From Shelves

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT
Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

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. On Wednesday, she posted a message: “Now we can all breathe a little easier, and our families can live healthier.”

The company said Wednesday that it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1 in its 7,600 stores nationwide, in a move that will help grow its business that works with doctors, hospitals and others to improve customers’ health.

The move is the latest evidence of a big push in the drugstore industry that has been taking place over several years. Major drugstore chains have been adding in-store clinics and expanding their health care offerings. Their pharmacists deliver flu shots and other immunizations, and their clinics now manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes and treat relatively minor problems like sinus infections.

CVS Caremark Corp., which has 7,600 stores nationwide, said it will lose about $2 billion in annual revenue by phasing out tobacco, but the move will not affect its 2014 earnings forecast.

Obama, in a statement, says CVS new policy “will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.”