Maintaining a Healthy Image: CVS’ Bold Move

When you think of CVS Pharmacy, I’m sure plenty of things come to mind. Not only can you go into this chain to get your prescription, you can also go in for a quick trip to a clinic, hundreds of health and wellness items, beauty products, snacks, and more.


CVS has always been good at keeping a consistent image. They’ve come to be known as the neighborhood pharmacy for many towns and have always been focused on your health and wellness, or so it seemed.

When you walked into a CVS in early 2014 and before, you noticed that the cigarettes and other tobacco products were right at the front of the store behind the checkout counter. Oddly enough, the prescriptions and various other health remedies were toward the back of the store. In other words, the sick people had to walk to the back of the store while the “healthy” people could get their tobacco products at the front. CVS made the bold decision to stop selling all tobacco products in each of its 7,600 stores nationwide on October 1, 2014 using its “Let’s Quit Together” campaign. “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS Pharmacy,” says CEO, Larry Merlo, “is simply the right thing to do for the good of our customers and our company.”


This caused an uproar for some people as they could no longer satisfy their tobacco cravings at any CVS location. CVS did this for several reasons but the most important was the company trying to keep a consistent image. Merlo says “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose — helping people on their path to better health.” Why would a company promoting a healthy lifestyle sell products that have been proven to cause sickness or death?

There is no place for cigarettes or other tobacco products in a place where a healthy lifestyle is the greatest concern. While other pharmacies continue to sell tobacco products, CVS stopped roughly two years ago. When this decision was announced, management explained that CVS stores would lose around $2 billion in annual revenue.


CVS knew their brand would take a hit as well as their annual revenue but the pros outweighed the cons. CVS reported a full year of profit growth for 2015, despite the removal of tobacco products from shelves. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle is something every pharmacy should pride themselves on, but only CVS was willing to take a chance and make a change.