WOONSOCKET, R.I., February 5, 2015 – On the one-year anniversary of its decision to stop tobacco sales, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) released new data showing that its messages about the importance of quitting smoking for good are reaching millions of Americans and that its smoking cessation program is providing personalized counseling and smoking cessation products, when appropriate, to hundreds of thousands more. This outreach reflects CVS Health’s commitment to helping people on their path to better health by becoming tobacco-free.
“One year ago, we knew that removing cigarettes and tobacco products from our stores would not be enough on its own to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our customers and patients who smoke,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “We believe our combined efforts of eliminating pharmacy-associated access to tobacco products, and a devoted smoking cessation program through our channels will help our patients on their path to better health.”
CVS Health’s innovative smoking cessation program combines the elements that are the most effective smoking cessation components: an assessment of the smoker’s readiness to quit, medication support, coaching and education.
“The combination of medication and coaching is powerful and can nearly double quit rates,” Brennan added. “Our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners are playing a key role in helping us implement this program.”
From the smoking cessation program launch on September 3, 2014, through December 2014, CVS pharmacists counseled more than 67,000 patients filling a first prescription for a smoking cessation drug or prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and consulted with thousands more smokers seeking advice about over-the-counter NRT products. Prescriptions for smoking cessation medications have increased by 63 percent on a monthly basis in the timeframe and visits to MinuteClinic for smoking cessation counseling were up 61 percent compared to the prior eight months.
CVS/pharmacy also offered ready access to over-the-counter NRT products that assist smokers trying to quit. Purchases of these products increased 21 percent in September through December over the previous four months. Additionally, customers picked up 2.3 million tobacco cessation brochures at CVS/pharmacy and thousands of “Last Pack” encouragement toolkits, reaching millions of additional smokers with education, information and support.
Smokers also sought out quitting support through a Smoking Cessation Hub on www.cvs.com which neared one million visits through December. Approximately 25,000 smokers completed Nicotine Dependency Quizzes during these website visits and more than 2,500 of them followed up with calls to a smoking quit line (1-844-265-4321) operated by the American Cancer Society for additional support and access to services in local communities.
“The hard work of quitting smoking is worth it because there are many health benefits,” commented Helena Foulkes, President, CVS/pharmacy. “Approximately seven in ten smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year. But challenges still exist, including the fact that fewer than half of smokers report being advised to stop smoking. Through our continuing efforts we hope to change that.”
About CVS Health
CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through our 7,800 retail pharmacies, more than 900 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 65 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, we enable people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.