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By the Numbers: Perceptions on Tobacco Use and Sales

September 03, 2019 | Community

Five years ago, CVS Health quit selling all tobacco products and made a commitment to help people lead tobacco-free lives. We are proud that we took this step in support of the health and well-being of our customers and the 10,000 communities we serve.

As part of this important milestone, we partnered with Morning Consult to gauge how Americans view our role in curbing tobacco and vaping use and improving the health of communities nationwide. With the survey revealing that more than three-quarters of Americans consider tobacco use as very harmful to their health, our commitment could not be more critical.

Our decision helps fulfill our purpose of helping people on their path to better health. And Americans agree. Currently, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe our decision to stop selling tobacco products reduces the risk of chronic disease (65 percent) and addresses public health disparities (also 65 percent).

Our Role in Curbing Tobacco Use

Stepping away from tobacco products allowed us to see positive outcomes almost immediately. For example, the elimination of pharmacy-associated tobacco products, complemented by a devoted smoking cessation program, led to people to purchasing 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes — or 2 billion cigarettes — within just one year.

The survey revealed that Americans understand the value and promise of our decision to remove tobacco products from our stores, and believe that we have a key role in limiting access to tobacco and e-cigarette products. More than half of Americans (62 percent) agree that retailers, like CVS Pharmacy, can play a key role in improving tobacco cessation — and that belief is even stronger among non-smokers (68 percent) and non-smokers with children (also 68 percent).

Furthermore, the survey demonstrated:

  • Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans are more likely to support a retailer that ends tobacco and e-cigarette sales; and

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of Americans say that a retailer ending the sale of tobacco and vaping products improves the health of their community.

Strategies to Reduce Tobacco Use

It is our goal to help those who smoke quit and ensure those who don’t, never start. The survey underscored the importance of the role we play in tobacco cessation and prevention. Americans expressed widespread support for improving community education about the dangers of smoking (81 percent) and restricting marketing tactics for vaping that target youth (80 percent).

CVS Health has made significant investments in cessation and prevention programs across the nation, with a focus on tobacco prevention for youth. For example:

  • We launched a $50-million dollar initiative to help prevent youth smoking and create the first tobacco-free generation. This work has helped more than 200 colleges and universities on their journey to become tobacco free and has delivered cutting-edge tobacco education to millions of young people.

  • Recently, we launched an aggressive plan to combat increased youth vaping, which has increased 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students between 2017 and 2018.

  • We committed to the Quit Big Tobacco pledge in April — joining more than 200 organizations vowing to not work with any marketing and public relations agencies that have ties with the tobacco industry.

We look forward to continuing our work to create the first tobacco-free generation and promoting better health in communities nationwide.


For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.