An inflatable cigarette is displayed to announce the drug store CVS’ decision to stop selling cigarettes at its stores on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in New York. CVS announced Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 that it will tweak its corporate name. Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark will now be known as CVS Health, and stores will stop the sale of tobacco nearly a month sooner than planned. The cigars and cigarettes that used to fill the shelves behind store cash registers have been replaced with nicotine gum and other products that help people kick the tobacco habit. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The nation’s second largest drugstore, CVS Caremark, announced Sept. 2 that it has changed its corporate name to CVS Health, and has ended the sale of tobacco in all of its store locations nationwide.

The decision to change its corporate name stems from a push to focus on customer health and stake a claim in the health care market. With 7,700 retail pharmacies, CVS Health stores will continue to offer clinics, specialty pharmacy services, and clinical support.

CVS Health will also continue to work with physicians and other health care markets to provide its customers with medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs.

“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,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement. “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.”

To further emphasize its support of the well-being and health of its customers, the company also announced it will no longer sell tobacco products as of Sept. 3.

The move came a month earlier than the previously announced Oct. 1 halt to sales of cigarettes and tobacco products. According to Merlo, the decision to be tobacco-free is another step to helping customers quit smoking.

“In quitting tobacco, we announced our plans to help the 18 percent of Americans who smoke,” Merlo said. “We know that seven in 10 smokers want to quit, so we’ve built a comprehensive national smoking cessation program that will help them do so.”

The company’s smoking cessation program has been initiated through a pharmacy campaign that is backed by national experts. According to a company statement, the campaign combines the efforts of several sections of the corporation to help smokers quit. It will include four components: evaluating a smoker’s readiness to quit; education to give smokers the information and tools they will need to quit; medication support; and coaching.

The company plans to unveil new signage behind its checkout counters that will help introduce the cessation programs and begin offering an array of nicotine replacement products that will be in select stores for the rest of the year.

Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO