Hawaii expert reacts to CVS decision - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii expert reacts to CVS decision

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

While Hawaii's smoking rate is lower than the national average, 150,000 people in Hawaii still light up.

The decision for CVS Caremark, owners of all 53 Longs locations in Hawaii, to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products on October 1, 2014 is a momentous one.

"I just could not believe it".  That was the reaction from Hye-reon Lee, a member of board of directors for the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii.

"I thought ‘You know what, maybe 5-10 years down the road I'll look back and say that was the day it all got started".

The company's President and CEO said the reason for the decision boiled down to fundamental philosophies.

"It's a real contradiction to talk about all the things that we're doing to help people on their path to better health, and at the same time sell tobacco" said Larry Merlo on CBS This Morning.

CVS Caremark said it stands to lose two billion dollars in revenues annually.  However, the move one that's part of a strategic repositioning as the brand looks to identify itself as a health care hub.

Additionally, it signals a cultural shift.

"The social norm aspect of this change is enormous," said Lee.

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