Chicago health, business officials weigh in on CVS tobacco ban - New York News

Chicago health, business officials weigh in on CVS tobacco ban

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

CVS wrote a page in history Wednesday as it announced it will become the first national drugstore to stop selling tobacco items by Oct. 1, 2014. 

From the business aspect in the short term, this move may hurt, but some feel the company will reap the benefits in the long run.

Public health officials in Chicago are praising the company for taking this step toward healthy living, and said this decision is unprecedented and applauded.

"We know that this is a very big public health win and it really sends the right message, smoking and health simply don't belong under the same roof," Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health,

The American Lung Association hopes more stores will jump on board.

"I believe that they are making a very powerful statement by making this move, that they are recognizing and supporting the fact that tobacco products are dangerous," Harold Wimmer, CEO of the American Lung Association, said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel commended CVS on Wednesday, for the move to "protect public health."

"Just a month after Chicago passed legislation to protect kids from flavored cigarettes and tobacco and regulate e-cigarettes," Emanuel said in a statement, "this important step shows that the private sector can play an important role in ensuring a healthier America."

CVS estimates its revenue loss total near $2 billion by making this move. Business and marketing professors here said it's not as severe as you think. CVS has major money making operations with its walk in clinics and 24 hour pharmacies.

So just how much is $2 billion?

"Less than 2 percent of revenue, I don't know that it's a big product category for them, but it's a bit of a bold move. And of course the next questions to ask is what about other product categories that you carry that may not be consistent with your healthy positioning?" Professor Joan Phillips of Loyola University's Quinlan School of Business said.

Some wonder if the company will still sell items like sweets and liquor, while others said those products can be nutritious to an extent.

"Alcohol use and even consumption of sweets are ok in moderation, but cigarette smoking, at any usage is deleterious to your health," Professor Joel Shalowtiz from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management said.

CVS's main competitor, Walgreens which is based in suburban Deerfield, said it has been evaluating tobacco products. Walgreens will continue to sell what its customers want and provide them with information to educate them about the dangers and options to quit.

Walgreen's released the following statement: "We have been evaluating this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us, with their ongoing health needs. We will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help to reduce the demand for tobacco products."

"Over the past year, Walgreens has partnered to conduct broad-based, in-store smoking cessation campaigns to provide consumers with educational health support. For example, last month we launched a free, online quit-smoking program ( that incorporates social media and allows tobacco users to personalize their program with customized tools. These campaigns demonstrate the value and benefits of smoking cessation by providing consumers incentives to start a smoking cessation program and also support caregivers. With this approach we are able to address the root cause and offer customers solutions to help change behavior."

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