CVS Health Demonstrates Integrity… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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CVS Health Demonstrates Integrity and Corporate Leadership With its Decision to Resign From U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
July 07, 2015

Washington, DC – Demonstrating true corporate leadership, today CVS Health announced it is resigning from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber’s activities supporting the tobacco industry in the United States and across the globe. When the leaders of CVS Health decided last year to stop selling tobacco products, CEO Larry Merlo explained it well. “Put simply,” he said, “the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

The company’s decision today to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is courageous and follows the same principle. CVS Health officials told the New York Times that the company’s purpose is to help people lead healthier lives, and that the company’s leaders recognize that tobacco use conflicts with this mission.

CVS Health’s decision to leave the U.S. Chamber sets an example for every member who does not support the Chamber’s campaign of opposition to countries’ efforts to pass and implement policies to reduce tobacco use. The Chamber’s tactics were the subject of a pair of investigative reports by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Danny Hakim last week in the New York Times.

The U.S. Chamber should immediately cease its campaigns in the United States and abroad opposing proven measures to reduce tobacco use. Until and unless the Chamber ceases this effort, companies should follow CVS’s example and reconsider their membership in the U.S. Chamber.

While the United States has cut smoking rates by more than half (from 42.4 percent in 1965 to 17.8 percent in 2013), tobacco use is still the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, and smoking is on the rise in many other countries as the tobacco industry has sought new markets for its deadly products. Since 2005, 180 countries have become parties to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first global public health treaty. The WHO projects that without decisive action, tobacco-related deaths are expected to climb from 100 million in the 20th century to up to one billion in the 21st century, and 80 percent of those deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries.