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Eight U.S. Senators Urge Drug Stores to Follow CVS, End Tobacco Sales

February 10, 2014


Eight U.S. senators today sent letters to the CEOs of two major drug store chains – Walgreens and Rite Aid – and the president of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores urging that other pharmacies follow the lead of CVS Caremark and stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“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,” the senators wrote.

The senators cited the enormous health and financial toll of tobacco use, which kills 480,000 Americans and costs the nation more than $289 billion in health care expenses and other economic losses each year.

“The impact of tobacco on our nation’s children is impossible to ignore – 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed. These findings highlight the critical need for all sectors of our community to play a role in ending the unnecessary disease and death that results from tobacco use.”

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) organized the letter. It was also signed by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

Image: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) / Photo Credit: Official U.S. Senate Photo