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CVS Caremark's decision Wednesday to stop selling cigarettes in its stores won praise from health advocates, lawmakers, and the nation’s ex-smoker-in-chief, but the move is expected to have much greater symbolic impact than practical effect.
Even as President Obama and public health officials called on other pharmacy chains to follow CVS, analysts noted that tobacco products are a small and shrinking share of sales for the Woonsocket, R.I company and its competitors. Tobacco sales represent less than 2 percent of CVS Caremark's annual revenues, and likely to decline further as more communities across the country ban tobacco sales in drug stores.
Already, Boston and 79 other Massachusetts communities, accounting for about half the state’s population, have passed such bans.