CVS to quit selling tobacco products

Aaron Krause • Mar 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

CVS, which has a store in Norwalk, will quit when it comes to tobacco product sales effective Oct. 1 — and a local health official commended the company for the decision.

"Huron County Public Health would like to applaud the bold stance by CVS to stop selling tobacco products," said Katie Spaar, director of community health, Huron County Public Health, Community Health Division.

"In 2010, American Cancer Society stated that tobacco use is still the most preventable cause of disease and early death. The average pack a day smoker spends $1,456 per year on cigarettes. The Huron County Health Assessment indicated that 18 percent (7,892) of Huron County adults smoke. That equates to a total of $11,490,752 spent a year on cigarettes in Huron County. Therefore, Huron County Health Officials are pleased with the additional barrier put in place to decrease the availability of tobacco sales. Thus, potentially decreasing health care costs and increasing health outcomes in the county."

An employee at the Norwalk store referred questions to corporate officials.

"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.

"As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we're taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace."

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown also applauded an announcement by CVS that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores and pharmacies by October -- and begin a national campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking.

"Today's announcement by CVS is excellent news for the health and well-being of Americans across the country," Brown said. "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."

According to the Ohio Department of Public Health:

One in every five Ohio deaths is caused by tobacco.

Ohio ranks sixth in adult smoking rates.

16,900 children under the age of 18 start smoking each year in Ohio.

About 386,000 Ohioans are suffering from one or more chronic or acute diseases as the result of cigarette smoking.

The medical costs associated with tobacco use by Ohioans are about $4 billion per year, of which $1.3 billion is covered by the Ohio Medicaid program.

Ohio residents pay what amounts to a "tobacco tax" of about $602 per household for smoking-related government expenditures annually.

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