CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores, prompting decisive praise from President Barack Obama, a reformed cigarette smoker himself.
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From the President:
I applaud this morning’s news that CVS Caremark has decided to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores, and begin a national campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking instead, he said in a statement released by the White House about the decision by the nation’s second-largest chain.
In the statement, the President also congratulated the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, and the board of directors in the statement, saying it sets a powerful example and will help advance his administration’s goal of trimming health care costs and reducing tobacco-related deaths, including cancer and heart disease, which are among some of the leading causes of death for Blacks in the United States.
President Obama knows about the perils of smoking. Last year, he was caught on an open mic, saying he has not “had a cigarette probably in six years. That’s because of my wife,” according to NBC’s Chuck Todd.
Tobacco is responsible for about 480,000 deaths a year in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which won the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009.
Specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in five Black adults in the United States smokes cigarettes. Further, diseases from smoking kill more Blacks each year than car crashes, AIDS, murders, and drug and alcohol abuse combined, according to the CDC.
Ending tobacco sales would help CVS Caremark expand its working relationships with doctors, hospitals, and other care providers to improve customers’ health, the Associated Press reports. The move will cost the company about $2 billion in annual revenue but will not affect its 2014 earnings forecast, the AP says.
For several years, CVS and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores and expanding their health treatment focus. The decision is in response to an aging U.S. population that will need more care and for the millions of people who are expected to gain health insurance coverage under the federal health care overhaul, the AP says.
Besides delivering flu shots and other immunizations, CVS clinics also have been expanding the scope of care they deliver, the AP says. The stores now help people manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes in addition to treating relatively minor problems like sinus infections.
Experts say chronic conditions are made worse by smoking.