Personally, I do not understand why nearly every drug store in the country sells liquor and tobacco products. That is why I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that CVS is now removing cigarettes from its shelves. Cigarette smoking, as we all know and as many tend to deny, are related to a whole lot of health conditions. From respiratory problems to cancer, the habit can have negative effects on almost, if not all, every part of the body. And I think other drug stores should follow in CVSâ€™s footsteps.
A study conducted in 2011 found that more than 32% of pharmacies actually condone the sale of tobacco products. And the California Department of Public Health says that if things continue as they are, 15% of all cigarette sales in the country will be from these establishments, which is ridiculous since pharmacy services should be related to health care and not health demise!
A close friend of mine is an injury lawyer in Portland, Oregon. He said that smoking cigarettes results in nearly half a million deaths each year. That is about 1 in 5 deaths! Smoking deaths are more than the sum total of HIV deaths, illegal drugs, alcohol, auto accidents and firearm-related deaths.
Even President Barack Obama is impressed with the companyâ€™s move, saying “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come.”
Indeed, the company wants to set an example. Larry J. Merlo, the president and CEO of CVS Caremark stated that “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. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
But thatâ€™s not all CVS has planned. CNN reports that the company will also be starting a smoking-cessation program which will focus on public health teachings to further increase peopleâ€™s awareness about the dangers of smoking, as well as offer smokers the help that they need to successfully quit their nicotine addiction. Sure the number of smoker today is now down to just 19% as compared to the 42% in the 1960s, but still the habit has led to over 5 million deaths each year.
Various health associations in the US, such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Lung Association and American Pharmacists Association have long been advocating to stop cigarette sales in retail outlets with pharmaceutical services, and CVSâ€™s decision to cooperate will hopefully inspire other people, establishments and companies to support the cause.
“We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to take tobacco products out of the hands of America’s young generation, and to help those who are addicted to quit. Today’s CVS Caremark announcement helps bring our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation. I hope others will follow their lead,” shares Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. However, there still is no news of whether or not other drug stores plan on doing so.