CVS Just Says No to Tobacco and Cigarette Sales

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As of October 1, 2014, CVS/pharmacy stores will no longer sell tobacco products and cigarettes. CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS) made the announcement Wednesday in a press release, where the company explained the driving forces behind the decision.

“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 J. Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Caremark stated. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

The Office on Smoking and Health (or, OSH), an office within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. each year is tobacco use. In addition to publishing information on how to quit and programs to assist smokers, OSH compiles data on smoking’s adverse health effects. Compared to nonsmokers, mortality is three times higher for a person who has smoked, regardless of sex. Smoking increases the risk of death from cancers of the esophagus, larynx, lung, and oral cavity, which contribute to the higher mortality rate for smokers.

Even though smoking has declined from 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, it remains the leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Furthermore, an article published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that the smoking’s rate of reduction has plateaued; today, 42 million people continue to smoke, and smoking-related illnesses affect 16 million current and former smokers. The article by Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH and Steven A. Schroeder, MD calls out the role pharmacies play in perpetuating smoking. Recent studies have displayed that reducing the availability of tobacco products leads to a decline in use. However, by placing cigarettes and tobacco products in pharmacies, smoking becomes associated with health products.

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