A year has passed since CVS introduced a policy ceasing the sale of tobacco cigarettes in stores, but has this lead to an overall reduction in the amount of cigarettes purchased? According to preliminary data released by CVS, the answer is yes.
While it’s only been a year, an analysis of tobacco sales across the market (including gas stations, convenience stores, drug stores and dollar stores) shows that the number of tobacco sales has decreased by 1% in the 13 states that have CVS since the company implemented their ban.
CVS’s chief medical officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, optimistically told Times, “One percent may not sound like much but it’s a very substantial amount when you consider the mortality and morbidity associated with tobacco.”
Nicotine replacements (i.e. gums, patches and lozenges) were not included in the policy. Nevertheless, CVS has also noted a 4% increase in the purchase of nicotine patches in the same timeframe.
This news is promising in that it suggests tobacco cigarette use is on the decline; however, University of California, San Francisco professor, Stanton Glantz gave the report a “B grade.” Glantz, who works in the university’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, feels that they only deserve a B rating because “they were not the only thing happening. If you look across these states, there were tax increases for cigarettes going on, some of the states had anti-smoking programs, there was less smoking in movies. CVS doesn’t account for those [other factors].”
These numbers also do not take into consideration how many people decided to switch to vaping e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Glantz does commend CVS for the actions they are taking to help increase awareness about the dangers associated with smoking and creating an environment that fosters social discussion.
According to the most recent numbers from the CDC, there are still roughly 42 million adults smoking tobacco cigarettes in the U.S., which leads to 16 million of them living with tobacco-related diseases. Additionally, smoking is still the clear number 1 cause of preventable death in America.
In other words, anti-smoking advocates still have a long way to go.