There has always been something hypocritical about pharmacies selling tobacco. But pharmacies are also in business to make money, and cigarettes remain legal in this country, so it’s hard to support legislation advocated by some anti-tobacco groups (and adopted in some localities) to ban tobacco sales in pharmacies.
We are nonetheless grateful that CVS/Caremark — the nation’s largest drugstore chain — has voluntarily decided to stop selling tobacco products, and hope the move encourages others in the business to do the same.
While drugstores are clearly so much more than drugstores these days, selling everything from groceries to small electronics to hardware, their primary mission remains helping make sick people well. Cigarettes tend to do the opposite, of course. Maybe that wasn’t obvious in the early years of the big pharmacy chains, but it has been for at least a few decades.
Old habits (like smoking cigarettes) die hard, and pharmacies have had a hard time breaking this one. It’s gratifying that CVS is willing to try, although far from clear it will have much impact on cigarette sales. Smokers will simply turn to other outlets, like supermarkets and convenience stores, for their fix.