CVS Drops Tobacco, But Retailers Remain In Poor Neighborhoods

Oct 6, 2016

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new study finds mixed health results from CVS pharmacies’ decision to stop selling tobacco products. 

Harvard Professor Reginald Tucker-Seeley, Ph.D,  says when it’s easier to get tobacco in your neighborhood, more people smoke. So when CVS pharmacies stopped selling cigarettes, Tucker-Seeley wondered whether that might be good for all Rhode Islanders. He found that in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and a greater percentage of black and Latino residents, there just weren’t as many CVS pharmacies. But there were plenty of other tobacco retailers.

“Although it’s a commendable tobacco control policy, the reduction of tobacco retailers," said Tucker-Seeley,"the impact of that is felt differentially across the state depending on where you live.”

Tucker-Seeley says smoking rates among blacks and Latinos are lower than among whites, but the greater availability of tobacco in black and Latino neighborhoods puts more people at risk of taking that first drag. The study is published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.