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CVS stores to ditch cigarettes, tobacco products - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

CVS stores to ditch cigarettes, tobacco products

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WILLISTON, Vt. -

CVS offers the necessities.

"Usually shampoo, makeup, vitamins, stuff like that," customer Jennifer Selwah said.

Many customers also pick up cigarettes, but not for much longer.

"It just seems a little strange, big moneymaker for them," customer Jonathan Seaver said.

The drugstore giant announced it will stop selling all tobacco products in October.

"I don't think drugstores should sell tobacco products anyways," Selwah said. "It defeats the purpose of being a drugstore and getting people healthy."

"Here's a company positioning itself as a health center and the first thing you see when you walk in is cigarettes," said Robert Letovsky, a business professor at St. Michael's College.

Letovsky says the move will help CVS's brand credibility.

"It's either a brilliant stroke that will put them at a distinct advantage to competitors who choose not to copy them or it's a simply a defensive move to protect their brand," Letovsky said.

Kicking the habit of selling cigarettes comes with a price. CVS estimates it will lose $2 billion annually from tobacco shoppers.

"That's not necessarily $2 billion of cigarette sales. That's cigarettes plus analysis on loyalty cards, what other products they buy," Letovsky said.

"I used to be a smoker. They have prevention in there, as well. If they have cigarettes that's fine with me," Seaver said.

CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo told CBS This Morning the company is evolving into more of a health care business, noting that there are about half-a-million smoking related deaths in the U.S. each year.

"We have 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners who are helping millions of patients every day manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes-- all conditions that are worsened by smoking," Merlo said.

Letovsky says the move will put the pressure on other drugstores to follow suit.

"You cannot claim to be a health center if you're making something that even the companies that make it claim is unhealthy," Letovsky said.

Letovsky says if other drug stores get hooked on this idea, it may eventually get places like supermarkets to also snuff out sales of cigarettes.

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