CVS to stop selling tobacco products

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Reported by: Michelle Linn
Updated: 2/05 5:38 pm Published: 2/05 12:47 pm

Owasso, Okla. - It's a move designed to keep you out of your doctor's office, but it could keep people from walking through the doors of the 53 CVS Pharmacy stores in Oklahoma.

The second largest drugstore chain in the country announced Wednesday you won't be able to purchase tobacco products at any of its 7,600 locations nationwide starting in October.

That means no cigarettes, no cigars and no smokeless tobacco.

CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo estimates the move will cost the company $2 billion a year, but says it's worth it.

FOX23 looked up the CVS website and found a statement from Merlo, saying in part, "Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered."

Merlo describes the move as "the right thing to do".

FOX23 questioned Green Country residents to find out if they agree.

The CVS website claims smoking kills 480,000 people in the United States annually.

Experts say obesity leads to 300,000 deaths a year, and soda leads to obesity, so where does a company draw the line?

"It's totally a company's decision, if they want to quit selling tobacco products, because there's plenty of smoke shops in town. People could go get tobacco or chewing products or cigarettes at a local smoke shop," said A.J. Oatsvall.

We talked to Owasso resident Bob Turner, who told us he wishes he'd never picked up the habit.

"I smoked and chewed tobacco all my life," said Turner.

Turner finally quit smoking, but tells us he still chews tobacco.

"I wish I could get rid of it. I wish I could get rid of it. It's like a drug addict," Turner said.

The CVS Pharmacy CEO says there are no plans to take soda and potato chips, other products known to have health risks, off the shelves, because, in moderation, they are not as deadly.

Turner and Oatsvall told FOX23 this move is not like taking soda off the shelves, because there's no question lives are at stake, when it comes to cigarettes.

"They're in the business of selling health, of helping people get better. If they want to quit selling tobacco products, that's totally their decision," said Oatsvall.

"I wish them luck on it," said Turner.

This is not the first bold move made by the company, when it comes to health. FOX23 reported, back in March 2013, CVS announced it would fine workers $600 a year if they wouldn't report their body weight, or quit smoking.

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