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Local reaction to CVS decision to stop selling tobacco products

Health care workers are pleased, other don't see it having an impact
WISCONSIN, Wis. (WFRV) - One of the nation's largest pharmacy chains is kicking the habit of selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores nationwide.

CVS Caremark will phase out sales of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by October 1st..

CEO  Larry Merlo said CVS stands to lose about $2 billion a year, but it's worth it.

"We believe this is the right decision for our company," Merlo said. "It positions us for future growth and gives us an opportunity to play a bigger role in our evolving healthcare system."

The idea is nothing new. Krider Pharmacy in Green Bay stopped selling tobacco products more than 25 years ago. Owner Gary Krider recalled his father making the big decision.

"He felt that tobacco products were really inconsistent with our role as healthcare providers," he said.

While Krider applauds the same move by CVS, he doesn't feel it will have much on impact on the nation's smoking culture.

"If you want to find cigarettes, they're not going to be difficult to find," added Krider.

Some local smokers agree.

"Do you buy a lot of tobacco products from CVS?" we asked Chad Zingler. "No, just on and off," he answered. "I usually get roll your owns.. They're cheaper."

"Is it great what they're doing? Yes," said Joshua Caldwell. "It is, health-wise, but at the end of the day, you can go right across the street to a gas station and get them all day."

According to the CDC, about 20 percent of Wisconsin adults smoke. 

Anne Sinkula has seen the impacts first-hand. She facilitates smoking cessation classes for Bellin Health. She's hoping other retailers follow suit.

"I hope they will follow in their footsteps and also say yes, this is a good thing," Sinkula commented. "Making it a little bit more inconvenient for them, then maybe they will think more about, yeah maybe it's time to quit."

The move won't hurt tobacco companies too much. Drug store only account for about 4 percent of all sales.

Several national health organizations, as well as President Obama, are praising CVS for its decision.

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