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CVS Stops Tobacco Sales A Month Earlier Than Expected

Effective today, America's second-largest pharmacy chain has banned tobacco sales in its stores.

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Along with banning cigarettes and other tobacco products from its shelves, CVS Caremark Corp. will rebrand as CVS Health, company CEO Larry Merlo said. "Today as CVS Health we are tobacco-free."

"We see ourselves as a health care company. There is nothing as bad for health as smoking," said Dr. Troy Brennan, CVS executive VP and chief medical officer. "So selling a product in our store that's causing people health problems didn't make sense."

Cigarettes and cigars will be replaced by aids to help people quit smoking. A press representative for CVS confirmed to BuzzFeed that the company anticipates losing $2 billion in revenue annually from stopping tobacco sales at its stores.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell released a statement Wednesday applauding CVS for ending ending tobacco sales. "We hope others will follow CVS Health’s lead in this important new step to curtail tobacco use."

In a statement from the White House press secretary, the Obama administration says CVS is setting a powerful example in the industry.

Today, CVS took a significant step in stopping the sale of tobacco products in their stores and kicking off a smoking-cessation campaign.

As one of our country's largest retailers and pharmacies, the newly-named CVS Health is setting a powerful example that we hope others in the industry will follow.

CVS's actions will not only help Americans across the country who are trying to quit smoking, it will also help ensure that when families go to their neighborhood pharmacy, they can get the information and support they need to live healthy lives, which can contribute to driving down health care costs.

The President has made creating a tobacco-free generation a top priority. These efforts include signing the landmark Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products; expanding tobacco cessation coverage and making new investments in prevention campaigns through the Affordable Care Act; and increasing the cost of cigarettes through a federal excise tax increase in the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act.

And 50 years after the Surgeon General's landmark Report on Smoking and Health, we have reduced smoking rates by half. However, our work is far from done, and today's announcement by CVS Health is an important step forward in improving the health and lives of millions of Americans.

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mike Hayes at mike@buzzfeed.com.

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