Research Article

We Quit Tobacco, Here’s What Happened Next

In September 2014, CVS Health became the first national retail pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products in all of our stores because it conflicted with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health. To mark the one-year anniversary, we are releasing the results of a new study that examines the impact of our tobacco exit on public health.

The study, conducted by the CVS Health Research Institute, evaluated cigarette pack purchases at drug, food, big box, dollar, convenience and gas station retailers in the eight months after CVS Pharmacy stopped selling tobacco products. We are excited to share the results, which show a measurable, positive effect on public health:

  • Since we stopped selling tobacco, there’s been an additional one percent reduction in cigarette pack sales across all retailers in states where CVS Pharmacy had a 15 percent or greater share of the retail pharmacy market, compared to states with no CVS Pharmacy stores.  
  • Over the same eight-month period, the average smoker in those states purchased five fewer cigarette packs and, in total, approximately 95 million fewer packs were sold. 
  • The study also showed a four percent increase in nicotine patch purchases in those same states during the period immediately following the end of tobacco sales, indicating that there was also a positive effect on attempts to quit smoking. 

“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,” said CVS Health’s Chief Medical Officer Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. “This new data demonstrates that CVS Health’s decision to stop selling tobacco did indeed have a real public health impact.” 

In conjunction with the study results, we have also announced a strategic initiative with Scholastic to introduce a new, school-based program aimed at preventing youth smoking and teaching kids about the health consequences of tobacco use.

If you or a loved one is looking to quit smoking, you don’t have to go it alone. Stop by one of our 7,800 retail locations to speak with a pharmacist or nurse practitioner, or visit our online cessation hub on CVS.com.