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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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February 10, 2014 - 7:07 am

Other drugstores chains are going to start feeling the congressional pressure this week to go the route of CVS and pull tobacco products from their shelves.

Drugstore chain CVS received praise from President Obama on Wednesday after announcing that it would stop selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores across the country.

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

Merlo made one political donation last year to his home-state senator, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), for $500.

Obama lauded Merlo in a statement, saying the drugstore chain set “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.”

After CVS announced its ban, their stock fell while Walgreens and Rite Aid shares went up.

Today at noon, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will appear at a Hartford CVS along with local representatives of the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association to pressure other drugstores to follow suit.

Online campaign sites have sprung up asking Walgreens and Rite Aid to do the same.

“Good health and tobacco simply can’t be sold in the same store. Pharmacy companies cannot honestly promote health products and profit from death and addiction. We’re urging all pharmacies to follow CVS in stopping cigarette sales  – sacrificing some profits but saving lives. Customers will thank and reward pharmacies that help halt tobacco addiction, disease and death  –  so horribly costly in dollars and lives to all Americans,” Blumenthal said.

“Put your stores truly at the corner of happy and healthy, not death and addiction,” the senator added, taking a dig at Walgreens’ pitchline. “Instead of spreading the scourge of smoking, promote cessation. Selling cigarettes may be legal, but it’s not right.”

CVS has estimated its decision will cost $2 billion annually in revenue.

“The company understands that keeping people healthy by promoting wellness and encouraging prevention is a solid business decision that will also save lives.  I encourage other retailers – especially those in the health care industry – to follow the bold lead of CVS Caremark by refusing to sell cigarettes and tobacco products,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

“Positive actions such as this from CVS Caremark, combined with the expansion of preventive benefits through the Affordable Care Act, will help continue to lower our nation’s health care costs and improve Americans’ quality of life,” Cardin added.

UPDATE 12 p.m.: Sens. Blumenthal, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent letters to Walgreens CEO Gregory Wasson, Rite Aid CEO John Standley, CEO of Rite Aid Corporation, and president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Steven Anderson urging all drugstores to pull tobacco from the shelves.

“We write to urge [you], as a company committed to the health and wellness of its customers, to follow CVS Caremark’s plan to stop selling tobacco products and promote cessation efforts in all stores,” the letter states. “We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products, however we also believe that you are in a position to have a major positive impact on public health. By reducing the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products and increasing access to tobacco cessation products, [you have] the power to further foster the health and wellness of [your] customers and send a critical message to all Americans—and especially children—about the dangers of tobacco use.”

“CVS Caremark’s bold and admirable decision will complement federal efforts to save lives and reduce health care costs through continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, access to smoking cessation therapies with no out-of-pocket expenses under the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s ‘Tips from a Former Smoker’ and FDA’s new ‘The Real Cost’ campaign,” they  added.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
If I'm following this -- and I think I am -- the busybodies want tobacco to be treated as a drug, and so don't want drugstores to sell tobacco.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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If CVS chooses to quit selling a product, any product, that is the right of the corporate board to decide. CVS is a private-sector retailer.
If governments and nanny-staters and nanny-bullies are trying to stop us from buying tobacco, that's a different story. Suasion by private-sector actors is legitimate, maybe it's legitimate from government, but coercion is wrong until proven justified by harm done to others in nearly all cases.
And yes, many commenters below have noted the importance of tobacco tax revenue to the very governments that are in such a hurry to get tobacco out of our lives. Good plan, that, like taxing the rich and then making fewer of them. Very "progressive."
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
If lawmakers feel so strongly, they can outlaw the product. If not, well, we knew they are hypocrites anyway...
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now , THAT'S a 'progressive' move: thusly emptied shelves must quickly be restocked with prophylactics....saving lives from even be borne in the first place ... giving huddled masses a chance ....

31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder what they are going to do without the cigarette taxes government is addicted to? That's right: the Dems are legalizing pot and certainly that will be taxed.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
since government is in bed with tobacco for the revenue, and have used those taxes on tobacco for many programs, all those that like tobacco being removed, are you ready for more taxes on you to pay for the programs that these taxes have been paying for.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
A lot of states depend on tobacco tax revenue.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
As Rush said either ban it altogether or quit complaining about it.

They want the tax money and to ban it at the same time (have their cake and eat it).

They act like spoiled children.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They act like spoiled children."--Timoleon

Sen. Shumer (D-Nanny State) are not putting on an act. It's their true selves.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eh. I think people on both sides are getting worked up over a whole lot of nothing. What's the margin on cigarette sales? It can't be very high. It sounds like they're just exiting a low-profit product line, and taking advantage of rising public opinion against smoking as a justification.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
the government makes a fortune on the tax on tobacco, and it isn't the margin on tobacco, but the taxes, and the government funding programs on those taxes. CVS spoke of $2 Billion/year in sales on this one product. That is a lot of tax money going to uncle sam.

get ready to pay more to replace these taxes.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Government is the problem!

Harvard Study: Fluoride Lowers Children’s Intelligence By 7 IQ Points February 10, 2014

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88pfVo3bZLY#t=1180
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance in fresh and salter water.

Are you talking about levels of fluoride in municipal water or what?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoride#Occurrence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridationy
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where else would you go to buy a drug? All drugs should be sold in drug stores; from alcohol to zoloft.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Didn't the late George Carlin have a sketch about drugs and drug stores? Why, yes he did.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does this mean they'll be handling medical marijuana for that one toke over the line in furtherance of better mental well being and health? Apparently ninety million Americans use mind altering substances, legal and otherwise, so medical marijuana should be quite a market for promoting happy thoughts in an era of planned scarcity to save the planet from climate change.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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