CVS to stop selling cigarettes, Mayor Nutter still wants a tax

Credit: Wiki Commons.
Credit: Wiki Commons.

Smoke ‘em while they got ‘em.

CVS Caremark, a nationwide pharmacy chain, announced Wednesday that it will stop selling cigarettes at its 7,000 stores starting on Oct. 1.

The withdrawal is expected to cost the New England-based company about $2 billion.

Mark McDonald, spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, said Wednesday tobacco products and firearms are most likely the primary causes of preventable death in Philadelphia.

“We’re delighted that CVS Caremark decided to act as a responsible health services provider, which is at the core of their mission as a pharmacy, to stop the sale of tobacco products,” McDonald said.

Last summer Nutter proposed a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes, which he said would raise $45 million in new revenue for the cash-strapped school district. The bill, which passed City Council, is currently stuck in the state legislature.

McDonald said the CVS decision – which could lead to a domino effect and reduction in city-wide cigarette sales – would not affect Nutter’s continued push to enact the tax.

“It may be a reduced revenue stream in theory, but there’s no downside to it,” he said. “If it reduces consumption, that’s not a bad thing.”

Obama

President Barack Obama, a former smoker, acknowledged the move in a news release Wednesday.

“Today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs – ultimately saving lives,” he said.

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