The Wall Street Journal has a story about while Walgreens Boots Alliance is testing a few tobacco-free stores in the US, the company “has no plans to quit selling cigarettes entirely.”

This despite the fact that chief rival CVS got out of the tobacco business years ago, citing its desire to be seen as credible in the healthcare business. (Declining sales probably helped to make the decision a little easier.)

The safety of our patients is very important, but we also have to do what our customers are requiring us to do,” says Walgreens Boots Chief Executive Stefano Pessina. “We see that when we don’t sell tobacco, we have a lot of [negative] reactions.”

The Journal writes that “while it continues to sell cigarettes in the vast majority of its stores, Mr. Pessina said Walgreens is trying to help smokers quit by also making smoking cessation products widely available. Employees are encouraged to direct customers seeking cigarettes to cessation products. The pharmacy chain has also reduced the visibility of tobacco products in some stores.”

The story notes that Walgreens has been cited by federal regulators for selling tobacco products to minors: “Outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called out Walgreens in February for selling tobacco products to minors after the agency conducted undercover checks. About 22% of the more than 6,000 Walgreens stores the FDA inspected sold to minors, the agency said.”

KC's View: Seems clear to me that Walgreens is choosing its lane, and it is less healthcare-focused than the one CVS has chosen.

For me, having decided that there is a special circle of hell for tobacco executives and their minions, CVS has made the right choice on a lot of levels - it has an eye on the future, not today’s transaction count.