Gina Vaynshteyn
February 14, 2014 11:00 am

In season one of Mad Men, pregnant Betty Draper is constantly lighting up a cigarette. Even though this isn’t too shocking for Betty’s character, doctors in the ’60s used to prescribe pregnant women cigarettes to curb their appetite, which IS shocking. But we’re not living in those dark ages any more, are we? Why should tobacco products be sold at an institution that ultimately promotes good health? It never made sense to me that along with your prescription meds, you can pick up a pack of cigarettes at a pharmacy.

The short answer to this contradiction is “money,” but it seems to be the sacrifice CVS is willing to make. CVS will be the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products, and as a result, they are positioned to lose approximately two billion dollars on an annual basis. Nevertheless, CEO Larry Merlo announced to the world that all CVS drug stores will stop carrying tobacco products effective October first of this year.

Earning the nod of approval from President Obama, CVS has done something huge. Drug stores tend to make most of their substantial profits off the products they sell, not prescription medicine their pharmacists fill. I suspect that’s why you’re usually told to “just wait fifteen minutes” for your re-fill (when you already called it in earlier); CVS wants you to browse the make-up, shampoo, and candy aisles. Conveniently, cigarettes are for sale at the cash register for those who don’t want to stop at the liquor store. It’s win-win.

Except when it’s not and thousands of people are dying of lung cancer, strokes, heart disease, and anathema each year and costing the country billions.

Are smokers going to quit just because their pharmacy has stopped stocking their shelves with cigarettes? Probably not. But it’s part of the push America has recently made to urge its citizens to quit. CVS is sending the message that they don’t support smoking, and hopefully this will catch fire. As of now, Walgreen’s has stated that they don’t plan on eliminating tobacco products in their stores.

Remember when you were able to buy cigarettes at the movie theatre? Me neither, but once upon a time that option existed. This seems crazy to us now, so imagine how crazy it will sound to our grand-kids that drug stores sold cigarettes.

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