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Walgreens stores stop sale of cigarettes in Gainesville, Florida

August 2, 2018

Walgreens stores in Gainesville, Florida, have stopped selling cigarettes in a pilot program to decide if the pharmacy giant will ban sales of tobacco in other stores, according to the Gainesville Sun.

“We’re continually testing various programs, services and product offerings to meet the needs of our customers and communities and strategic partners, and to deliver the best customer experience,” Walgreens corporate spokesman Scott Goldberg wrote in an email to the Sun. “The removal of tobacco products in our Gainesville area stores is another example of that.”

Walgreens currently sells tobacco products in its stores, which anti-smoking activists say is an antithesis to their mission of providing health and wellness.

In 2014, CVS Pharmacy became the first pharmaceutical-retail giant to stop selling tobacco products in its stores.

In the year following the decision, cigarette purchases dropped by as much as 95 million packs in states where CVS had a 15 percent share of the pharmacy market, The Washington Times earlier reported.

Further, smoking-cessation purchases increased by 4 percent.

The study, which was conducted by the research arm of the company, was published in the American Journal of Public Health in February 2017.

More than 480,000 people in the U.S. die each year from complications related to cigarette smoking, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the leading cause of preventable death. More than 41,000 deaths are from second-hand smoke exposure.

A CDC survey found that two-thirds of Americans said pharmacies shouldn’t be allowed to sell tobacco.

The Gainesville pilot program is expected to last 12 to 18 months before Walgreens executives decide to expand the program, the Sun reported.

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