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President Obama: CVS Decision to Stop Selling Tobacco Products Sets “Powerful Example”

February 05, 2014


From President Obama and the First Lady to members of Congress to public health leaders, CVS Caremark’s decision to end sales of tobacco products is being widely hailed as a courageous and historic step that will help drive down tobacco use and improve the nation’s health.

First Lady Michelle Obama thanked CVS and tweeted, “now we can all breathe a little easier, and our families can live healthier.”

The White House posted the following statement by President Obama:

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. As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets 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. I congratulate – and thank – the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors, and all who helped make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.

Members of Congress are also speaking out in praise of CVS:

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman of California, ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Today’s announcement by the CVS Caremark President and CEO sends an unmistakable message to all Americans – and especially to our kids. Tobacco use is incompatible with health and wellness.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee: “This 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, the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s ‘Tips from a Former Smoker’ and FDA’s new ‘The Real Cost’ campaign, and no-cost access to smoking cessation therapies under the Affordable Care Act. I encourage other pharmacies to follow this model.”

U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio: “Today’s announcement by CVS is excellent news for the health and well-being of Americans across the country. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world. But today, we took a step in the right direction towards stopping the insidious creep of addiction, lung cancer, coronary disease, and respiratory harm caused by tobacco and nicotine. I encourage other companies to follow CVS’ lead and take similar actions which would help save lives.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, where CVS is based: “I commend CVS Caremark for voluntarily taking tobacco products off their shelves. CVS is a trusted brand that focuses on health and wellness and they reached this decision on their own because they understand that tobacco use and public health don’t mix…. I hope others are encouraged by CVS' leadership to take similar steps.”

In our own statement, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called CVS’s decision “one of the strongest actions any business has ever taken to address the enormous public problems caused by tobacco use.”

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza