CVS ends sale of tobacco products

Students question effectiveness of the change

On February 6, 2014

  • CVS implemented a new policy that will stop all cigarette and tobacco sales by Oct. 1. The company has a location in The Commons at UB. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum

On Feb. 5, CVS Corporation announced in a press release that by Oct. 1, its stores would no longer sell cigarette and tobacco products. The drug store is the first national pharmacy chain to make such a decision.

Sharlynn Daun-Barnett, the alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention specialist at Wellness Education Services, said she was thrilled about the news and that it "shows [CVS] cares for their customers and for long-term health." Daun-Barnett believes both the nation and campus will benefit from CVS' new policy.

"UB students and staff have been trying to get the North Campus CVS to stop selling cigarettes for more than five years - collecting hundreds of signatures through petitions and meetings with store managers," Daun-Barnett said. 

UB has also taken action over recent years to enforce a stronger smoke-free-campus policy. Five years ago, cigarette and tobacco products were removed from the shelves of on-campus shops like the Elli and Campus Tees, and Campus-Cash tobacco purchases were prohibited.

UB cannot restrict The Commons from selling tobacco because these stores are not under the university's regulation.

Daun-Barnett has worked with UB medical and pharmacy students who are lobbying for the removal of tobacco products from all pharmacies. They believe these items should be disassociated with healthcare and pharmacy centers.

"If you're getting products that cause cancer, it doesn't support the health mission," Daun-Barnett said.

Though many UB students praise CVS for its policy change, some are skeptical whether the change will benefit students or dissuade the smoking population.

Student Andrew Proefrock, who has never smoked before, congratulates CVS on taking a stand and hopes other companies will follow.

Proefrock believes, however, that "[smokers] will still smoke regardless." As a freshman biomedical science major who has played sports all his life, he understands the importance of practicing healthy habits.   

Brittany Herbert, a legal studies concentration sophomore, thinks it's a step in the right direction, but one that may backfire for CVS.

She said that other stores might follow in CVS' footsteps, but at the same time they may choose not to because of the potential loss in revenue. Instead of choosing to smoke less, consumers can choose to purchase their products from other stores, Herbert said.

Hnu Thaper, a freshman business major, thinks CVS' new policy is a good idea, but that "people are still going to buy tobacco either way."

Following the announcement, CVS changed its social media icons to no smoking symbols. Government officials celebrated the decision on social media sites like Twitter.

The White House tweeted the president's comments: "Obama: 'Today's decision will help advance my Administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease.' #CVS."

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted: "CVS' decision to eliminate #tobacoo sales is a major milestone in the effort to reduce tobacco use ...#CVSquits."

Daun-Barnett said next month, Wellness Education Services is planning to have UB students write thank-you notes to CVS regarding this policy change.

She encourages students to visit CVS' social media sites in support of this step to create a more expansive smoke-free population.



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