-- HealthDay staff
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The national drug
store chain CVS Caremark said Wednesday that it's phasing out the
sale of tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores across the
The company said cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco will no
longer be available at any of the stores by Oct. 1.
CVS said it's making the move because selling tobacco products
isn't in keeping with a pharmacy's mission of helping to protect
people's health. It said it's the first national pharmacy chain to
halt the sale of tobacco products.
"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."
In a statement, the American Lung Association applauded the move
The group "commends company leaders for their forward-thinking
decision to prioritize the health and well-being of current and
future customers and employees and for helping create a
tobacco-free generation of youth," said ALA National President
"We urge more retailers to take note of CVS Caremark's actions and join in efforts to help reduce access to tobacco and tobacco use, and eliminate tobacco-caused deaths and disease," Wimmer added.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in
the United States with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the
number of Americans who smoke has dropped from about 42 percent of
adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, more interventions -- such as
reducing the availability of cigarettes -- are needed, the CVS news
Writing in a
Journal of the American Medical Association"Viewpoint"
article published online Wednesday, CVS chief medical officer Dr.
Troyen Brennan and co-author Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the
Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of
California, San Francisco, said that "the paradox of cigarette
sales in pharmacies has become even more relevant recently, in
large part because of changes in the pharmacy industry. "
They added that "most pharmacy chains are retooling themselves
as an integral part of the health care system. They are offering
more counseling by pharmacists, an array of wellness products and
outreach to clinicians and health care centers.
"Perhaps more important, pharmacies are moving into the treatment arena, with the advent of retail health clinics. These retail clinics, originally designed to address common acute infections, are gearing up to work with primary care clinicians to assist in treating hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes -- all conditions exacerbated by smoking," the doctors wrote.
They added that a new emphasis on restricting tobacco
availability and reinforcing the social unacceptability of smoking
conflicts with pharmacies' sale of cigarettes and other tobacco
"Advocates have long questioned the juxtaposition of the distribution of medications for promoting health with the sale of the single most deadly consumer product. This is primarily a U.S. problem: pharmacies in other developed countries do not sell cigarettes," the doctors said.
The CVS decision will cost the company an estimated $1.5 billion
in yearly tobacco sales, the authors of the JAMA article said.
For more on quitting smoking, visit the
American Cancer Society.
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