CVS Packs In Tobacco Sales Sooner Than Planned

CVS Announces Name Change, Anti-Tobacco Push

By TOM MURPHY

As CVS sharpens its focus on customer health, the nation's second-largest drugstore chain will tweak its corporate name and stop the sale of tobacco nearly a month sooner than planned.

CVS Caremark (CVS) said it will now be known as CVS Health, effective immediately. The signs on its roughly 7,700 drugstores won't change, so the tweak may not register with shoppers.

However, those customers will see a big change when they check out. The cigars and cigarettes that used to fill the shelves behind store cash registers have been replaced with nicotine gum and other products that help people kick the tobacco habit. CVS said earlier this year that it would stop selling tobacco products on Oct. 1.

CVS and other drugstores have delved deeper into customer health care in recent years, in part to serve the aging baby boom generation and the millions of uninsured people who are expected to gain coverage under the federal health care overhaul. They've built hundreds of walk-in clinics in their stores and have steadily expanded the services they provide.

We're doing more and more to extend the front lines of health care.

Drugstores now offer an array of vaccinations and flu shots, and their clinics can help monitor chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure. CVS said its new name reflects its broader commitment to health care.

"We're doing more and more to extend the front lines of health care," CEO Larry Merlo said.

As part of this push, the drugstore chain announced earlier this year that it would phase out tobacco sales.

The company said it could no longer sell tobacco in a setting where health care is delivered, and the presence of that product was hard to justify when it tried teaming up with hospital groups and doctors to help with patient care.

Merlo said the company moved up its quit date nearly a month because they got ready for the move sooner than they anticipated, not because its distribution centers had already run out of tobacco.

The corporate name change represents an improvement because the average person didn't understand the word Caremark, which represents the company's pharmacy benefits management business, said Laura Ries, president of the brand consulting firm Ries & Ries.

The new name may provide a better sense of what CVS does to the few investors or people on Wall Street who don't know about the company, which is ranked 12th in the 2014 Fortune 500.

But Ries said the name's power is limited because health is a generic word that is common in many company names.

"It's an improvement off of Caremark, but it's not some amazing wonderful thing that will change the world," she said.


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215 Comments

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ami0c

It is a start!

September 08 2014 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vanalders

If Larry Merlo is so concerned about the health of his patrons, why is the hypocrite still selling alcohol?

September 08 2014 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruce

Well, at the CVS just up the street from my house, their 24 hour store has taken quite a hit for the loss of smokes. As Dave pointed out, it OK to sell beer, liquor, chocolates and "fat food", but bad to sell tobacco. I've already moved my scripts to a small family owned drug store a block away, and I'll deal with them from now on. Bye Bye CVS.

September 08 2014 at 12:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bruce's comment
vanalders

I haven't been in Merlo's "house of boos" since I heard about the hypocrite's dumping cigarettes last winter!

September 08 2014 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

Yeah, their concerned about our health. Yet...they sell chocolate, potato chips, beer and wine like its going out of style. I will not purchase anything from a corporation that dictates to me how I should live.

September 05 2014 at 4:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave's comment
vanalders

Exactly! I won't go into Merlo's fascist "alcohol den," ever again!

September 08 2014 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scdonnie

Seems like beer and wine would have went along with it. I guess alcohol is healthy now since CVS sells it.

September 04 2014 at 3:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
scdonnie

So selling beer and wine is healthy now?

September 04 2014 at 3:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Oh Divine one

Hogwash, not that many people are buying smokes at drug stores. Trust, me they are not going to lose any money because, as always, it's all about the bottom line. This just makes them look good to all the sheeple so sales will increase.

September 04 2014 at 3:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ficadoor

Larry's so full of ****! He'd sell his soul for a new Lamborghini.

September 04 2014 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
przinck

I only quit about a year and a half ago, and I say good for them. I think one of the reasons it's so hard to quit smokeing is you can get butts any place. Even if you can't smoke them any place any more. They should take beer and wine out too.

But they should bring in weed. after all they (the government) have been calling it a dangerous drug all these years.

September 04 2014 at 1:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Mantis

Some people on here are truly braindead. They act like it is a right that this store must carry tobacco. Last I checked, this is a business and they can choose whatever they want to sell. Nobody is "outlawing" tobacco. There are plenty other stores to buy tobacco from if you choose to do so.

September 04 2014 at 1:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply