CVS bolsters healthcare image

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CVS said it is forfeiting around $2 billion in sales in an effort to solidify its position as a healthcare business. The drugstore chain announced Wednesday that it will stop selling tobacco products as of October 1.

"Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose," President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement. He also said the company will be launching a smoking-cessation program.

Drug stores and pharmacists have gotten increasing attention as healthcare participants, and have employed efforts such as adding clinics that can administer flu shots and vaccines and providing services like school physicals. This is in addition to lifestyle marketing efforts, such as the Walgreens 2010 effort to address so-called "food deserts" by providing healthful options.

The CVS announcement also cited an article co-written by the company's chief medical officer, Troyen Brennan, and published in JAMA Wednesday, which noted “retail clinics, originally designed to address common acute infections, are gearing up to work with primary care clinicians to assist in treating hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes—all conditions exacerbated by smoking."

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