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CVS Caremark discusses its decision to quit selling cigerettes in a new report

CVS ban on cigarettes will save lifes
CVS ban on cigarettes will save lifesPhoto by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

CVS Caremark today released its 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, which showcases the company's CSR strategy – its Prescription for a Better World – and its key priorities: building healthy communities, protecting the planet and creating economic opportunities. The company also reports its progress on its CSR and sustainability initiatives. The report is available online on the company's website.

The company has declared that cigarettes and tobacco have no place in a health care delivery setting. They report that each year, an estimated 480,000 people in the United States die from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, another 16 million already have at least one disease from smoking.

The report covered topics that the company considers to be its CSR priorities: access to affordable health care; the environmental impacts of its operations, including those contributing to climate change; product stewardship; patient safety; employee engagement and workplace inclusion; and the safe disposal of prescription drugs, among others.

CVS Caremark is the first American business to ban all cigarette and tobacco products from it stores nationwide. The socially conscious decision is estimated to cost the business 2 billion dollars in sales.

President Barack Obama recognized the company for its decision to ban cigarette sales. “I congratulate and thank the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors, and all who helped make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country,” Obama said.

The CSR strategy is called The Prescription for a Better World because it defines CVS Caremark's plan and is aligned to support the company's purpose of helping people on their path to better health. The new report provides evidence of the company's core initiatives focused on providing better access to quality, affordable care and improving health outcomes.

A recurring theme in the report is CVS Caremark's decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores by October 1, 2014. The decision reflects the company's commitment to building healthier communities and aligning products and services with its purpose. In conjunction with stopping the sale of tobacco products, CVS Caremark will also be investing in smoking cessation programs going forward.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the annual economic costs attributed to smoking in the United States stands at between $289 to $332 billion dollars.

The report also provides an update on the company's progress against its 15 percent carbon intensity reduction goal by 2018, which it is on track to reach; a stronger focus on product stewardship and evaluating and removing certain ingredients; and engaging employees in more diversity programs, as well as health and wellness initiatives. To read the full 80 plus page report go to: info.cvscaremark.com/CSR.

The CVS/pharmacy ban on cigarettes and all tobacco products takes place on October 1, 2014.