CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further evolve their pharmacies into full-fledged health care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers. Its stores already are home to over 750 MinuteClinics, the country’s largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics, where ordinary Americans can get flu shots or check out earaches and sore throats.
“An important and growing part of our business is the work we do with clients and health insurance plans,” CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes said in an interview Tuesday. “As we thought about supporting their goals about improving outcomes and lowering costs, we believe that’s the future we’re looking towards. As we become more connected to their health care work, this is an important decision for us to make.”