CVS Caremark s decision to kick the habit of selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide could have interesting financial implications for Goodlettsville based Dollar General.

For CVS, the decision to stop tobacco sales meant the company was willing to give up more than $2 billion in sales a year to move toward a more health conscious business model.

For Dollar General, the move may help the company grab more customers looking to meet their nicotine fix. Dollar General, which has more than 10,000 retail locations, began selling cigarettes more than a year ago.

Based on the company s latest earning call, the move has been a successful one. Some analysts have even speculated that new competition from stores such as Dollar General and its nearest competitor Family Dollar might have been hurting CVS tobacco sales anyway.

Investing expert Jim Cramer recently told The Street that the move could be a plus for several retailers, including Rite Aid, Walgreens and Dollar General.

Go check Dollar General they brought in cigarettes last year, Cramer said. (Selling tobacco) does not have good gross margins, but it s known as a loss leader for the business.

Dollar General Chairman and CEO Richard Dreiling told analysts in December that cigarette sales were helping overall sales.

Tobacco products and the additional customer traffic they brought to the stores helped Dollar General boost its third quarter sales 10.5 percent over the same period last year, to $4.4 billion, with comparable store sales up 4.4 percent, the company reported.

As we expected, the addition of tobacco products resulted in strong customer traffic growth throughout the quarter, Dreiling said.

When we started the tobacco journey, one third of our cigarette sales were by themselves, one third were what we would call a smoke and a Coke, where they would grab a cigarette and maybe a soda or a chip, he said. And then one third is where the cigarettes were actually going into a basket that was beginning to grow.

But in the third quarter, 44 percent of cigarette shoppers bought more, and just 26 percent opted for tobacco alone, Dreiling said, adding, So we re beginning to convert the cigarette customer into a shopper.

A Dollar General spokesman said the company did not have a comment on CVS decision on tobacco sales.

CVS notches about $1.5 billion annually in tobacco sales, but it expects the $2 billion drop in revenue from phasing out tobacco because smokers often buy other products when they visit their stores. The company brought in more than $123 billion in revenue in 2012.

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