COPD Foundation's Public Response to CVS Caremark Announcement Ending Tobacco Sales in 2014

February 07, 2014

The COPD Foundation congratulates CVS Caremark on their decision to cease cigarette sales by October 1, 2014 and commends the company for prioritizing health over profits.

Ending cigarette sales at CVS Caremark is an important milestone, coming 50 years after the surgeon general first warned of public health risks associated with tobacco use in 1964, by which time an estimated 42% of Americans were smoking cigarettes on a daily basis. Since then, the appalling truth about the negative health impact of both direct and passive smoking has emerged.

"This new policy represents exemplary corporate leadership, and sends a strong message to other retailers of cigarettes and tobacco products. We applaud CVS Caremark for clearly stating that cigarette sales are no longer compatible with the provision of health-related products and services in a pharmacy and personal care environment. We also encourage all other pharmacies, drugstores and retailers to follow suit," said John W. Walsh, President and Co-Founder, COPD Foundation.

Smoke inhalation has been responsible for countless cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), drastically reducing both quality of life and life expectancy for millions of American men and women, as well as being the leading preventable cause of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Many millions of deaths and billions of dollars in health costs continue to accumulate – in part a consequence of easy access to tobacco products in our communities. This year, by ending the sale of cigarettes at CVS Caremark, Americans are a step closer to rejecting tobacco use as a normal and acceptable behavior.

"Smoking remains without question the greatest health challenge we face. Evidence suggests that smoking causes most preventable illnesses and deaths. Smoking remains the most common cause for COPD, the third leading cause of death in this country. This is a tremendously important step taken by the CVS chain. Hopefully other major chains will follow CVS Caremark’s lead," said Byron M. Thomashow, M.D., Chair, Board of Directors, COPD Foundation.

This policy also reinforces the health education messages that The COPD Foundation and other organizations are communicating in relation to the dangers of smoking and the need to proactively treat nicotine addiction. Not only is rejecting tobacco essential for public health, it is also essential for the reduction of healthcare expenditures in smoking-related illness.

The COPD Foundation celebrates this decision to prioritize public health over tobacco-related revenues, and wishes CVS Caremark every success with the introduction of their tobacco-free retail environment.