Objectives: To assess the impact of CVS Health's discontinuation of tobacco sales on cigarette purchasing.
Methods: We used households' purchasing data to assess rates at which households stopped cigarette purchasing for at least 6 months during September 2014 to August 2015 among 3 baseline groups: CVS-exclusive cigarette purchasers, CVS+ (CVS and other retailers), and other-exclusive (only non-CVS retailers). In state-level analyses using retailers' point-of-sale purchase data, an interrupted time series compared cigarette purchasing before (January 2012 to August 2014) and after (September 2014 to April 2015) tobacco removal in 13 intervention states with CVS market share of at least 15% versus 3 control states with no CVS stores.
Results: Compared with other-exclusive purchasers, CVS-exclusive purchasers were 38% likelier (95% confidence interval = 1.06, 1.81) to stop cigarette purchasing after tobacco removal. Compared with control states, intervention states had a significant mean decrease of 0.14 (95% confidence interval = 0.06, 0.22) in packs per smoker per month.
Conclusions: After CVS's tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly. Private retailers can play a meaningful role in restricting access to tobacco. This highlights one approach to reducing tobacco use and improving public health.