CVS Caremark today announced three potentially game-changing developments for its brand and its business. First, the pharmacy chain has changed its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health, to reflect its broader commitment to healthcare — first illustrated in February by its bold decision to discontinue the sale of all tobacco products.
CVS Health encompasses the company’s retail business, which will continue to be called CVS/pharmacy; its pharmacy benefit management business, which is known as CVS/caremark; its walk-in medical clinics, CVS/minuteclinic; and its growing specialty pharmacy business, CVS/specialty.
“For our patients and customers, health is everything and CVS Health is changing the way health care is delivered to increase access, lower costs and improve quality,” announced Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health. “As a pharmacy innovation company at the forefront of a changing health care landscape, we are delivering breakthrough products and services, from advising on prescriptions to helping manage chronic and specialty conditions.”
The company also announced that, as of today, it has officially ended the sale of tobacco products at its 7,700 CVS/pharmacy locations across the US, almost a month ahead of schedule.
“The sale of tobacco in a retail pharmacy conflicts with the purpose of the health care services delivered there,” added Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer at CVS Health. “Even more important, there is evidence developing that indicates that removing tobacco products from retailers with pharmacies will lead to substantially lower rates of smoking with implications for reducing tobacco-related deaths.”
The implications of CVS’ discontinuation of tobacco products are already coming to light: Results of a new study from CVS Health, included in a Health Affairs blog, show that the enactment of policies to eliminate the sale of tobacco products at retailers with pharmacies in San Francisco and Boston was associated with up to a 13.3 percent reduction in purchases of tobacco products.
“Today should mark a call to action by all retailers involved in health care,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We urge other retailers with pharmacies to follow the powerful example set by CVS/pharmacy and end tobacco sales.”
In conjunction with the elimination of tobacco from its shelves, CVS Health is also making good on its “commitment of making the next generation tobacco-free,” as Eileen Howard Boone, SVP of CSR at CVS, described at SB ’14 in June. Today, the company is launching a comprehensive, personalized smoking-cessation program to help Americans quit smoking. The program includes four critical components: an assessment of the smoker’s readiness to quit, education to give smokers the information and tools they need to quit, medication support to help curb the desire to use tobacco, and coaching to help individuals stay motivated and prevent relapses.
Along with these announcements, CVS Health is starting a movement to promote tobacco-free living through a social campaign called #OneGoodReason, to encourage people to share their reason to live tobacco-free.
“We learned following our announcement in February that nearly everyone has a tobacco story and was eager to tell it,” said Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy. “So, today we are launching a social campaign — #OneGoodReason — in which we are inviting everyone to share their personal stories of how smoking and tobacco use has affected their lives. Our hope is that through the sharing of these stories we can spark a movement that will make lasting improvements in health across our country.”
“Today, as CVS Health, we are tobacco-free, reinventing pharmacy and taking our place among leaders in the health care community,” Merlo added.