Physicians react to CVS anti-tobacco move

CVS Caremark announced last week it would cease selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores by Oct. 1, drawing praise from physician and anti-smoking groups, the Associated Press reported.

This decision not only supports renewed efforts from the American Cancer Society and others to combat smoking, but also better aligns the chain with principals put forth by the American Medical Association, the American College of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and other medical societies, which state that retail-based clinics should not operate in or associate with facilities that sell tobacco products.

Research shows making cigarettes even slightly less visible and convenient to purchase--especially for those struggling to quit--will make consumers substantially less likely to buy a pack on impulse, USA Today reported.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PMS) also commended CVS for taking tobacco off of its shelves, but added it hoped the chain would also ban electronic cigarettes, Physicians News Digest reported.

"The statistics are alarming," said Enrique Hernandez, M.D., a member of the board of directors at the American Cancer Society, as well as the PMS, regarding the number of Americans who die from tobacco-related deaths. "And now we have people who have never smoked tobacco before taking their first puffs on an electronic one."

But some physicians questioned the company's motives to drop tobacco products. A recent Physicians Practice post drew some comments that suggested that CVS' reason for the change was to further draw patients away from private practice and into the retail-clinic setting.

Despite growing national support for retail clinics' role in allaying doctor shortages, some physician groups have staunchly opposed CVS MinuteClinic franchises expansion into the company's home state of Rhode Island, claiming it threatens the medical home model. CVS' announcement did not address this link, but rather pointed out that the move will likely cost the company $2 billion in annual revenue. 

To learn more:
- read the article from the Associated Press
- see the story from USA Today
- here's the post from Physicians Practice (membership required)
- check out the post from Physicians News Digest