CVS Health surprised the health care community last month when it became the first and only national pharmacy chain to discontinue sales of tobacco products—1 month ahead of schedule.

The company first announced its plans to remove cigarettes from its stores in February 2014, projecting that all tobacco products would be removed by October 1, 2014.

The move was supported by preliminary research conducted by CVS Health which indicated that removing tobacco products from pharmacies is associated with reductions in the number of individuals who purchase those products.

In the study, the company looked at the potential real-world benefits of removing tobacco from its shelves in Boston and San Francisco, which enacted policies that eliminated the sale of cigarettes in stores with retail pharmacies. To assess tobacco sale trends in cities that do not have policies to remove cigarettes from pharmacies, the analysis also evaluated the number of smokers in Baltimore and Seattle in the same time frame.

After the policies were implemented, the average number of unique tobacco customers decreased by 13.29%, CVS Health found. After controlling for baseline rates of smoking over time, the number of unique patients purchasing cigarettes decreased by 5.5% after the ban on tobacco products.

“The implications of a reduction of this size are significant,” a CVS Health spokesperson said to Pharmacy Times. “If retailers with pharmacies across the country were to forgo sales of tobacco products, there could be 25,000 to 60,000 fewer tobacco-related deaths per year.”