BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A bold step by one of the nation’s biggest pharmacy chains. CVS will stop selling cigarettes at stores nationwide, even though the decision could cost them billions in sales.

Christie Ileto has more on the possible impact.

No butts about it. CVS Pharmacy says all cigarettes and tobacco products will be pulled off their shelves by Oct. 1.

“A pharmacy is a place that is supposed to be promoting health,” said Michaeline Fredder, American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association in Maryland says this big change is sending a message to Marylanders.

“You’re here to pick up a prescription or some other health issue and we’re not doing a right thing by you or by anybody by selling you something that’s going to make you sick,” said Fredder.

The announcement came Wednesday on CBS This Morning, affecting 7,600 stores nationwide and costing the company about $2 billion in revenue.

The CDC says 19 percent of adults smoke cigarettes.

Eugene Cummings Jr. says he’s one of them and supports the change but not because it promotes healthier living.

“I think it’s good. [They] don’t need to sell them. They’re too high for cigarettes; the gas station is cheaper,” he said.

Others say this won’t deter smokers.

“I understand where they’re coming from but people are going to buy cigarettes whether they sell them or not,” said Breanna Weber.

With CVS leading the pack of pharmacies in this bold move, could other big box pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid follow suit?

“Hopefully in the next couple of years, we’ll see all the pharmacies do it,” said Fredder.

And kick a habit that the CDC says kills one out of five people every year.

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

The CVS move drew praise from the White House and other government officials.

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