Greenville pharmacy beats CVS to pull cigarettes - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville pharmacy beats CVS to pull cigarettes to promote health

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

CVS is pulling cigarettes off the shelf. In an announcement Wednesday, leaders said that all tobacco products will be gone by October.

The second biggest pharmacy chain in the country said they want to focus on wellness and reducing health costs, even if it costs them $2 billion a year.

In a video statement by CEO Larry Merlo, "Every day we are helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and all of these conditions are made worse by smoking. Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered."

Stone Plaza Pharmacy in Greenville stopped selling tobacco products back in 2010. Its owner and pharmacist, Ken Rogers, said he didn't want to be a cause of harm for health when his job is to get people healthier. 

"We cannot dictate to people what decisions they need to make. They need to make their own personal decisions as what's best for them. I was removing [myself from] being a stumbling block for people," said Rogers.

Rogers said that it didn't deter customers or sales from his store.

On Wednesday, CVS shopper Donna Harkness said she couldn't be more impressed with the pharmacy. She's a dental hygienist who said she sees the effects of smoking up close and personal.

"It's a huge step for them [CVS]. Anyone that's looking for cigarettes and a bottle of aspirin won't come here. But it's something that will convince me to come here more frequently," said Harkness.

Some shoppers said they thought the decision was a way to control people.

Along with the minute clinics and partnerships with healthcare groups, CVS announced that come spring, they'll launch a new national program to help people quit smoking. They said their focus now is on healthcare.

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