CVS recently announced it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its 7,600-plus stores and eliminate all tobacco products from its shelves by October 1, 2014. This makes CVS the first national pharmacy chain to eliminate cigarettes from its shelves. The pharmacy made the decision because its management believed it didn’t match their organizational mission.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

You can see Merlo’s full statement here:

Unfortunately, all of this goodwill towards man didn’t come cheap. CVS told the Washington Post the removal of tobacco products will cost them approximately $2 billion in sales annually.

Despite the financial loss CVS may take, it has received nothing but support and praise from the media and politicians:

“CVS’s decision to eliminate tobacco sales is a major milestone in the effort to reduce tobacco use ­— and it sets a new bar for all companies that market themselves as pharmacies and health care centers. Just as no responsible doctor would put a cigarette machine in the office lobby, no responsible pharmacy should put cigarettes behind the counter. Pharmacies should help heal people, not make them sick. This is a smart and forward-looking move that will help save lives — and force other companies to confront this critically important public health issue.” — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed for smoke-free public areas.”

At Gavin, we applaud CVS for putting their customers before profit margins. But, we also commend the company for being an innovator and leader in its industry. The decision to remove all tobacco products from the stores has brought CVS plenty of positive media attention and public perception. It shows that taking a risk in your industry can pay off when it reflects the core values of your brand.