CVS' New Name Comes With A Fresh Mission — And An Expensive Ban On Tobacco

On Wednesday, CVS became the first huge drugstore chain to completely halt tobacco sales. As if that wasn't big enough news, CVS also has a new name, CVS Health, as part of its effort to promote itself as a health-focused company.

The drugstore giant, second only to Walgreens in size and operating more than 7,700 retail pharmacies and 900 walk-in clinics, made the announcement of their intention to end tobacco sales back in February, originally giving themselves an Oct. 1 deadline. But the new name is a reflection of a larger brand mission: to promote health for Americans, first and foremost.

Becoming the first large chain to stop selling tobacco products – which used to provide CVS almost $2 billion in annual sales – is a decent step in that direction, but the company's executives are focused on the bigger picture. In a video on their website describing the change and directed to the general public, President and CEO Larry Merlo refers to the CVS customer often. "For our patients and customers, health is everything," he says.

Each year CVS health will touch more than 100 million people by playing an active supportive role in each person's unique health experience and in the greater health care environment.

He also refers to the end of tobacco sales as a demonstration of CVS' commitment to health, and announces a new initiative CVS Health is taking on.

By eliminating the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in our stores, we can make a difference in the health of all Americans. We are also kicking off a comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation campaign to help millions of Americans to quit smoking.

You can watch the rest of the remarks here. The campaign will include medication support, education and help determining when the smoker is ready to quit.

Before you're hit with a wave of nostalgia for the old CVS — never fear. Besides the name change, halt in tobacco sales, and anti-smoking campaign, nothing else drastic is taking place . . . yet. CVS doesn't plan on halting alcohol or candy sales. And while the corporate name is changing, the retail locations won't be given the new name — they'll still be your friendly neighborhood CVS/Pharmacy.

Image: CVS Health