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Pulling Cigarettes from Drugstore Shelves Is Actually Helping People Smoke Less

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In 2014, CVS Pharmacy made a big move and announced it would no longer sell tobacco products, like cigarettes and cigars, in an effort to grow and expand their core brand values with a focus on healthy living. Turns out, though, CVS didn't just become a dominant influence in the industry regarding wellness—a recent study suggests that by dropping all tobacco products, the drugstore may have helped their customers actually quit smoking, too.

Published in the journal American Public Health last month, research led by a group of scientists who work for (and were funded by) CVS found that 38 percent of the households studied stopped buying tobacco altogether after the store discontinued the products. That's pretty impressive. While it would be even more notable had the study been conducted by a neutral third party, and there are some factors that can't be accounted for—like whether someone bummed a cigarette off a friend without paying for it on the books, the positive results are encouraging. The researchers were still able to show that the actual purchasing of cigarettes declined—so the outlook on an initiative like this is promising. (Need your own kick-start? Check out these 10 celebrities who quit smoking.)

The study also found that cigarette sales dropped by 95 million packs in the 13 states studied in the eight months after CVS left the tobacco market. That's awesome, as research out of the University of Queensland found that puffing just one cigarette cuts 11 minutes off of your life. There are typically 20 cigarettes in a pack, so if you do the math, that's 220 minutes saved with each unpurchased pack collecting dust. I don't know about you, but there's a lot I can do with an extra 3.5-ish hours added to my life span after saying no to a new pack. (Plus, the damage to your body caused by smoking is so harmful that it can literally impact our molecular makeup for 30 years after quitting, and, don't kid yourself, light smoking is just as dangerous.)

So while, yes, CVS has a vested interest in spreading this information for their own benefit, we're applauding the company's efforts to better your health and the health of those around you. Hopefully, this will encourage more nationwide retailers—big or small—to just say no to tobacco and save more lives in the process. 

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