Costco is butting out of the cigarette business.
The retail giant only sells tobacco products in 189 of its 488 U.S. stores after quietly phasing out its stock over the past three or four years, according to a new report by The Street.
A spokesman told the financial news site that the company hasn’t announced any great American smoke-out because, “We don’t do (press) releases at Costco. They are a waste of money.”
The decision to yank the products long linked with cancer was more of a business decision than a moral one — tobacco represents just a single-digit percentage of Costco’s entire business.
“We felt we could better use the space to merchandise other items,” said a spokesman for Costco, a warehouse club whose members pay at least $55 a year to buy goods in bulk.
The move follows may retailers. Target also stopped selling cigarettes in 1996 after the big box store saw declining profits on the packs of smokes.
And in 2014, CVS announced its intention to remove tobacco products — though that company spun it as a moral imperative to “help people on their path to better health.”
Then again, the $2 billion a year in tobacco sales that CVS lost as a result is just 1.3% of the company’s $153.3 billion in revenue.
Forty million Americans still smoke.