Costco Has Stopped Selling Tobacco at Many U.S. Stores

    Many U.S. Costco stores have stopped selling tobacco, Time reports. The move is primarily a business decision, the company says.

    Costco will continue to phase out tobacco sales at more stores, the article notes. Currently 189 of its locations still sell tobacco.

    “Tobacco is a very low-margin business, tends to have higher theft and is labor intensive in some cases (due to local municipality regulations)—further, we felt we could better use the space to merchandise other items,” a Costco spokesperson said.

    Many convenience stores purchase tobacco products wholesale from Costco’s business center warehouses.

    CVS stopped selling tobacco in the fall of 2014 in all of its stores. In February 2014 the company announced it would stop selling tobacco products because the sales conflicted with its healthcare mission.

    Last month a survey of smokers who used to purchase cigarettes at CVS found more than half said it is harder to buy cigarettes now that the pharmacy chain has stopped selling tobacco products. The survey found 52 percent said the move by CVS has impacted their ability to buy cigarettes regularly. Of that group, 73 percent called the impact manageable, stating, “buying cigarettes is now harder but I have other options.” The remaining 27 percent said it made buying cigarettes “much harder.”

    Smokers who used to buy cigarettes at CVS are most likely to purchase them now at gas stations, followed by Walmart and Walgreens.