CVS takes tobacco products off shelves, offering assistance to q - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

CVS takes tobacco products off shelves, offering assistance to quit smoking

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

According to the CDC, smoking is not only draining to your health, but also your wallet.

In Georgia people are spending more than $5 billion a year to smoke. In South Carolina, they're spending more than $3 billion.

As of today, many of those people will not be spending a dime at CVS because the pharmacy company has pulled all tobacco products off the shelves as part of a huge campaign to get people to live healthier lives.

It was supposed to launch October 1, but CVS was able to get all their ducks in a row a month earlier.

As of Wednesday, CVS is changing only their corporate name to CVS Health. All of their stores will remain CVS Pharmacy, but they will not longer carry tobacco products.

Officials say they are the first and only national pharmacy chain to end their tobacco sales.

CVS did a trial run in their stores in San Francisco and Boston and found that people buying tobacco products dropped more than 13 percent. Now, they are hoping this will have the same affect in all of their stores nationwide.

"It's a good thing to not sell them," said Savannah customer John Cutter. "That way people can't get them when they want them; eventually they are going to stop"

WTOC reached out to a wellness expert with Memorial Health who said getting people to quit smoking does not happen overnight or from one business or organization. Director of System Wellness, Debby Neel, says it's a combination of many different factors.

Neel said since 1965, the smoking rate in the U.S. has dropped more than 20 percent because many cities have adopted smoking ordinances, restricted smoking in the workforce and on school campuses. There are even public places that prevent people from lighting up.

But Neel says the best way to get people to quit is educating them, despite whether a company pulls a product or not.

"Those are companies that are dependent on their product and believe in their product, and they have the right to sell that product," said Neel. "But my preference would be to educate people and let them make an informed decision."

CVS does plan to help educate people. They now have tools and resources available at all of their stores and online that can help people quit smoking.

For more information, please visit here.

CVS is also challenging its competitors to also stop selling tobacco products. WTOC has reached out to some of those pharmacies and is waiting to hear back.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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