CVS to stop selling tobacco, but it and others unlikely to cut out alcohol, other vices

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By The Associated Press

While CVS Caremark Corp. is removing tobacco in an effort to focus more on being a health care provider, don't expect it or other companies with a similar focus to cut out other vices.

CVS chief medical officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, said the company has no plans to remove alcohol.

"At this point, we're dealing with cigarettes, which are unalterably unhealthy for people and different from any other substance that people either drink or eat," he said.

And Morningstar analyst Vishnu Lekraj doesn't envision companies cutting out sugary or unhealthy foods, either.

Tobacco presents a different level of risk than those other products. He noted, for instance, that health insurers consider tobacco use when they price an insurance policy for an individual customer. Conversely, they don't consider whether that person drinks or eats poorly.

"Tobacco is one of the most dangerous products that is legal right now," he said. "So you can't necessarily say to your customers that you're trying to curb health care costs ... while at the same time you're selling cigarettes out of your stores."

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