HOUSTON -

CVS says it will stop selling tobacco products by Oct. 1.  The pharmacy retailer broke the news Wednesday morning and no one is cheering louder than Houston's medical community.

"We're just delighted that CVS has taken this step forward," said Dr. Ernie Hawk, the Vice President of Cancer Prevention at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  "The impact is likely to be huge. About 30 percent of cancer-related deaths are due to smoking."

Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States. It is linked to nearly a half million deaths each year.

CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes explained the move saying it was decided tobacco should not be sold where pharmacists and nurse practitioners work every day to help patients get well.

"They are working with our patients and our customers who have chronic conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol and diabetes," said Foulkes. "And we know that smoking is extremely antithetical to helping people with their health care needs."

CVS expects to lose $2 billion a year because of lost cigarette sales, but doctors hope the decrease in the loss of life will be worth much more.

"We think that it's a bold move, and we hope that others follow suit," said Dr. Hawk.

That just may happen. Walgreens issued a statement saying it's evaluating the possibility of such a change.