The decision announced Wednesday by the pharmacy chain CVS that it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations in the U.S. is a milestone reached 50 years after the U.S. Surgeon's General's first report linking smoking with lung cancer, said Stephen J. Jay, M.D., professor of medicine and public health at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis. Ready access to tobacco products is a major cause of tobacco addiction among our youth. Restricting access at a major pharmacy chain will help lower high smoking rates among youth and adults, including pregnant women.
Today CVS is a health care provider with about 35 partnerships with health systems and health insurers across the country. To expand such partnerships CVS and other pharmacy chains must work in concert with health providers, hospitals, public health partners and health insurers to prevent disease and promote more cost-effective care. Selling tobacco is not consistent with these goals.
The enormous economic cost of tobacco use requires new thinking and bold action to lessen the devastation of tobacco addiction and disease. More than 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, 61 percent of all pulmonary disease deaths, and 32 percent of all deaths from coronary heart disease are attributable to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. The direct medical care costs annually attributable to smoking is $130 billion.
The CVS decision is a bold, decisive action whose impact will likely spur other pharmacy chains and related business to eliminate tobacco from their stores.
(To contact Dr. Jay, please email or call Mary Hardin, IU Communications, at 317-274-5456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)