smallcvsCVS Caremark plans to stop selling tobacco products in all of its stores starting Wednesday — a move health experts hope will be followed by other major drugstore chains.

CVS announced in February that it planned to drop tobacco by Oct. 1 as the sales conflicted with its health care mission. To bolster its image as a health care company, CVS will announce a corporate name change to CVS Health. Retail stores will still be called CVS/Pharmacy.

CVS, which has 7,700 retail locations, is the second-largest drugstore chain in the USA, behind Walgreens. It manages the pharmacy benefits for 65 million members and has 900 walk-in medical clinics.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission would like to thank CVS for their decision to no longer sell tobacco products.

Since the Surgeon General’s warning was first issued on January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the first report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.

This report was on the basis of more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature. The Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is, “A cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men, a probable cause of lung cancer in women and the most important cause of chronic bronchitis.”

In the 50 years since this original report, science has advanced and we know much more now about the harmful physical effects of tobacco use, including secondhand smoke.

Although we have seen reductions in tobacco use in the past 50 years, we still continue to see young people initiating use at a very young age, with 5 percent of Knox County Middle School students reporting that they smoked a cigarette before age 11 years (2013 Knox County Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Survey results also show that 75 percent of high school students who reported smoking at least one day in the past 30 days are reporting that they are making grades that are mostly C’s, D’s and F’s.

By reducing access to tobacco products, we know that youth usage rates decline. We hope that other health-related businesses will follow the lead of CVS. Everyone would benefit from a having a healthy community.

For anyone that is ready to quit smoking, please call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or join the program online at