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TODAY   |  February 05, 2014

CVS: We will no longer sell cigarettes

One of the country’s biggest pharmacies says it will stop stocking all tobacco products. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> concerning one of the country's biggest pharmacy chains. cvs says it will soon begin removing all tobacco products nationwide. tom, good morning to you.

>> reporter: it's very big. good morning, savannah, cvs says it could not reconcile the contradiction between trying to improve people's health while at the same time selling tobacco products. the big question this morning, will other pharmacy retailers feel pressured to do the same?

>> reporter: the news this morning could be the start of something very big. one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country saying no to tobacco . by october 1st , all tobacco products will be off the shelves at cvs . cvs president says it simply makes no sense for cvs employees to be selling cigarettes and chewing tobacco .

>> they are working with our patients and customers who have chronic conditions like high blood pressure , high cholesterol and diabetes. and we know that smoking is extre extreme extremely concerning for their health needs.

>> it comes as the chain transitions to more of a health care company. focusing on pharmacy services and clinics. the big question, will other pharmacy retailers feel pressure to also ban tobacco ?

>> we're not talking about just drugstores, also big box retailers who also have pharmacies, as well.

>> for years, pressure has been building on pharmacies to stop selling tobacco . from the american pharmacists, heart, medical and lung associations and the cancer society. the cvs announcement coming just as the fda unveils a new ad campaign aimed at teenage smokers.

>> what's a pack of smokes cost? your teeth.

>> most adult smokers take it up when they're younger than the age of 18. so we want to reach those kids who might be starting a lifelong deadly habit.

>> this morning, a fresh attempt to snuff out tobacco .

>> reporter: 500,000 people die from smoke-related illnesses. cvs is going to start a campaign to quit. this morning, the white house is applauding cvs ' decision to stop this trend.

>> a big change. tom costello in bethesda, thanks so much.