Nearly two years ago, CVS announced it would finally be giving up tobacco once and for all, leading Walgreens to say it was “evaluating” its future with the cancer-causing products. Now that the country’s biggest drugstore chain has had some time to kick back and ruminate on the matter, it’s decided… well, it’s decided to continue selling cigarettes while it thinks some more.
“We do deliberate this on a regular basis,” Executive Chairman James Skinner told investors at the company’s shareholder meeting today. “Our main focus is to try to get people to quit smoking, and we provide a lot of opportunities in stores to do that.”
When CVS announced it would give up selling tobacco, it acknowledged that the lack of cigarettes behind the counter would lead to around $2 billion a year in lost sales. Yet, since pulling those products in Sept. 2014, the CVS stock price has increased by around 20%, indicating that it’s not the end of the world to quit (making money from) smoking.
Both legislators and public health advocates have called on Walgreens and other drugstore chains to follow CVS’s lead, but to no avail.