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CVS Chain Ending Tobacco Sales

David Savona
Posted: February 6, 2014

One of the largest drug-store chains in the United States is going to stop selling all forms of tobacco products, including cigars, before the end of the year.

CVS Caremark announced yesterday that it would eliminate cigarette, cigar and other tobacco sales at more than 7,600 stores by October 1. The public company gets some $2 billion annually from tobacco sales.

Most of those sales come from cigarettes. Stores such as CVS don’t have walk-in humidors that contain the type of premium cigars found in brick-and-mortar stores, but they do a considerable business in cigars made by machine, and also in miniature versions of popular premium brands that don’t require constant humidification. Calls to various CVS stores in the New York metropolitan area found the following brands currently stocked: Backwoods, Macanudo miniatures and Cohiba miniatures, Phillies, Dutch Masters, Muriel and Al Capone.

“CVS was one of our good customers for our value-priced Hampton Arms and Don Seville Nicaraguan handmades,” said Eric Newman, president of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. “This is just the latest of so many challenges our industry in general, and our company specifically has experienced in our 119 year history—but we shall persevere.”

Newman believes that the customer buying his or her cigar from a CVS today will simply find a new outlet for that same cigar, noting that when major drug store chains moved their cigar departments from the aisle to behind the counter years ago it cut cigar sales in those outlets while the customer moved to other retailers.

“This migration of customers helped give birth to the plethora of tobacco outlets that we see all over the country today,” he said. “There is a CVS today virtually near every smokeshop in the country. What’s going to happen to these CVS cigar smokers? Where are they going to go to find their favorite cigars? Should be to a local cigar shop or tobacco outlet. Most of our tobacconists have already added value-priced handmades like our Quorum to their product offering. And now with the budget-minded CVS cigar smoker forced to look elsewhere for his cigars, this ill-advised decision by CVS could very well be a shot in the arm for our brick-and-mortar retailers.”

 

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Comments   6 comment(s)

Mike Greene — Warsaw, Virginia, United States,  —  February 9, 2014 11:29am ET

They're giving away $2 billion tobacco dollars. I see opportunity.


J F — Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.,  —  February 9, 2014 8:16pm ET

The hypocrisy of CVS is overwhelming, but surely not surprising in this current climate. I find it nothing short of laughable that CVS claims the need to pull tobacco products from their shelves in order to align themselves with the future of healthcare, yet they are not pullling the aisles of fattening candy and potato chips, or the beer and wine. When not appreciated in moderation, those items are equally as detrimental to the future of healthcare, but perhaps a bit too profitable for CVS to pull. Hypocrisy at its finests.


João Feteira — Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal,  —  February 10, 2014 6:19am ET

I'am portuguese so I will say it in portuguese: Hipocritas!


Monica White — Tampa, FL, 33606,  —  February 10, 2014 4:43pm ET

What about all of the addictive prescription drugs (and other non-healthy items) that the retailer provides to consumers?
They too can also be quite unhealthy.
But then again, many things can be unhealthy, it all depends upon the good health, judgment and discipline of the consumer. It appears that CVS is exercising poor judgment (& business sense) in favor of moral hypocrisy.


Arthur Hoge — Calhoun, Ga, U.S.,  —  February 13, 2014 8:47am ET

I'm sorry,,but I just don't see it,,,2 billion in tobacco sales?,,I personaly do not know anyone who says,,OH GEE,,I've got to go to CVS to buy my cigars and or,,,cigarettes,,AND,like everyone else,,how many other unhealthy things can you purchase at those stores.I don't think that even Quick Trip stores sell 2 billion in tobacco,,however,it doesn't matter much to me because,,in the town I live in,there are NO tobacconists so most all of my purchases are online,,and,,I depend on this magazine to tell me which cigars I need to be looking at.I sure as hell would never think of asking one of the clerks at CVS their advice on a good smoke.


Tom Molnar — Carson City, Nevada, USA,  —  February 26, 2014 8:59am ET

Grandstanding at the highest order, only I can't figure out what the grandstanding is attempting to accomplish...


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