Preventing children from picking up smoking just got a little easier.
CVS Caremark announced today that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of their stores (more than 7,600) nationwide by Oct. 1, 2014. They also plan on launching a national smoking cessation program this spring.
This makes CVS the first national pharmacy chain to take such a bold action in the ongoing battle to eliminate smoking. For a company that identifies as a healthcare store, it makes sense for the national chain to remove something so unhealthy from its shelves.
In a video released by the company explaining the end of tobacco sales, CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry Merlo said, "Everyday [CVS is] helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. And all of these conditions are made worse by smoking. Tobacco products have no place in a setting were healthcare is delivered." In an additional statement, he added, "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."
While the number of adult smokers has dropped from 42 to 18 percent since 1965, the rate of reduction has stalled in the past decade. Annually, more than 480,000 deaths are attributed to smoking, and it is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the US. Women, for the first time ever, are just as likely to die from smoking-caused diseases as men. And more than 3,200 under the age of 18 try their first cigarettes each day, with 700 becoming daily smokers. Smoking also costs the country $132 billion in direct medical costs and $157 billion in lost productivity every year, according to a recent Surgeon General report from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
But perhaps the scariest stat from the report can be found in Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's introductory message, "If we continue on our current trajectory, 5.6 million children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking." This is one out of every 13 children.
For something so preventable, even one is too many.