HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- A major announcement is coming from the second largest drug store chain in the nation: CVS Caremark says starting in October it will no longer sell cigarettes or other tobacco products.
In Michigan more than 20% of the population smokes cigarettes and many of them are under the age of 25. WZZM 13 talked to local health officials about what this decision means to the fight against cancer.
Outside a CVS store in Holland, customers are taking in a breath of fresh air. "I think not selling tobacco is the greatest thing they ever thought of," says customer Tom Walker.
The retail giant is doing what some of its customers can't do; quitting cigarettes. "I appreciate that because I used to be a smoker and I quit in 2009 and it's not a good idea to be selling tobacco," says customer Katerina Tripp. "To me any place that takes that stand, they got my vote," says Bud Kelch.
RELATED:CVS to stop selling tobacco products Oct. 1
By October, CVS Caremark plans to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. Some customers found it strange in the past to be promoting a 24-hour pharmacy, but then also selling cigarettes. "Selling tobacco is contradictory to what you're trying to do," says Tripp.
Company executives are hearing that message. CVS Caremark is now promoting health at the pharmacy as a unifying message in the future. "We've come to the conclusion that tobacco in a setting where healthcare is being administered, those two just don't go together," says CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo.
"The amount of money they stand to lose by this really speaks volumes about their commitment," says Tim Findley with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
Local health officials hope other retailers will follow suit for the sake of the next generation. "Any message that a big corporation can send to these smaller retailers saying 'You're on the right path, you're doing the right thing', it certainly helps our efforts just to educate," says Findley.
With more than 7,600 stores no longer selling cigarettes, perhaps even some current smokers, will decide to quit. CVS Caremark also plans to start a national campaign in the spring to help millions of Americans who want to quit smoking.