Earlier this year, CVS announced it would stop selling cigarettes by October.
They beat their self-imposed deadline by a month. As of today, you can’t buy cigarettes at any of their 7,700 stores nationwide. Including ours.
The nation’s largest drugstore chain has stopped selling them (and other tobacco products), in part because its 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners are tired of treating problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease — all linked to smoking.
CVS will lose about $2 billion in sales — less than 1% of its $123 billion total last year.
Years ago, cigarette sales no doubt accounted for much more. I remember those days well.
There were cigarette machines in nearly every store. Westport Pizzeria had one, as a longtime customer noted on Facebook. (When she was underage and tried to buy a pack, owner Mel Mioli warned her of the dangers of smoking.)
Across the street, a popular store selling food and featuring pinball games was called “Bill’s Smoke Shop.”
When I was in 8th grade, some Long Lots Junior High friends and I were “hired” to help construct the carnival that set up every May in the vacant lot that is now the Barnes & Noble shopping center. Our pay? Cigarettes.
(The wisdom of using 14-year-olds to build Ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls is the subject of another story.)
And for well over a decade at Staples, there was a designated “smoking area.” The blacktop just outside the cafeteria — next to a basketball hoop, and where principal George Cohan once grilled hamburgers — was called (by some) “Cancer Plaza.” Many other students called it “home.”
Things are different now. According to a 2011 survey, 11% of Staples juniors — and just 3% of sophomores — said they smoked cigarettes. That was a 10-fold drop from a similar survey 11 years earlier.
I spend a lot of time around Staples students. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone mention cigarettes. I’m not at their parties, true — but smoking among Westport teenagers seems to be dying a slow death.
Now CVS is doing its part to hasten its demise.
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