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Smoked Out: CVS Taking Cigarettes Off the Shelves

The pharmacy chain will stop selling tobacco in October.

Tobacco takes the lives of an estimated 400,000 Americans every year. And in response to that staggering statistic, CVS Caremark announced today that it will cease selling tobacco products by October.

"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

With around 7,600 stores nationwide, the move is expected to cost the pharmacy chain an estimated $2 billion (that's billion, with a "B") in revenue. No word yet on whether other pharmacies will follow suit, but Big Tobacco can't be too pleased. David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said, "We value the long-term relationship with CVS and respect their commercial decision. We will work with them as they transition out of the tobacco category in the coming months."

Awkward.

According to CNN, 19% of the U.S. population still smokes, and CVS plans to start new initiatives to help people quit the habit. It's a commendable (and, in retrospect, obvious) idea that tobacco cessation should start at the pharmacy level.

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