This article was authored by CVS Health Chief Medical Officer Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., and Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy for CVS Health.
Five years since exiting tobacco, focus expanding to other challenges
Five years ago, we decided to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in all CVS Pharmacy locations. It was the first step toward building an innovative health care company driven by a purpose — helping people on their path to better health. Since then, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation announced a multi-year $50 million Be The First initiative to help create the first tobacco-free generation.
On the anniversary of our original decision, we are expanding the program to tackle the growing problem of youth vaping with additional investments and new partners. We’re also bringing our smoking cessation expertise to areas across our businesses, with an expanded focus in 2020 on increasing effective smoking cessation approaches in Medicaid plans, including in Aetna Better Health managed Medicaid plans and together with CVS Caremark clients interested in creating or expanding smoking cession efforts for their Medicaid members.
Demonstrable positive impact on tobacco use
Our decision to exit tobacco led to a meaningful and measurable decline in cigarette smoking. Within 12 months, in states where CVS Pharmacy had at least 15 percent of the market share, consumers had purchased 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes, according to research we published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) in 2017.https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303612?journalCode=ajph Households that purchased cigarettes exclusively at CVS Pharmacy were 38 percent more likely to stop buying cigarettes, and those consumers who bought more cigarettes (>3 packs a month) were more than twice as likely to stop buying them.1