By: Dr. Shalini Forbis
Were you as surprised as I was when I saw all the tweets and news headlines about this? For those who may have missed it, CVS announced this week that it will be removing all tobacco products from its shelves as of October 1, 2014. I am sure that tobacco products are a source of revenue for CVS. What could lead to a company like CVS removing a revenue source from their stores?
Let me start by saying that, as a pediatrician, I applaud their initiative to remove these products from their shelves. According to 2011 data, almost 4,000 teenagers try tobacco products EVERY DAY! Almost one in four of these teens will become daily smokers and likely die an early death due to a disease that was worsened or caused by those products. Limiting availability to tobacco products will hopefully help curb tobacco use. Of note, CVS has not sold e-cigarettes and say that they are waiting to hear what the FDA has to say about e-cigs prior to consideration of the products.
I decided to do a little digging to learn more about what prompted this decision. Well, as many of you will know, CVS has launched into a new arena of health care. They have moved from being just a pharmacy to providing health care. More specifically their pharmacists provide vaccines such as the flu vaccine and some stores have nurse practitioners to provide medical care for acute issues. CVS’ removing tobacco products from their shelves is in line with their positioning as a health care company and not just a pharmacy.
Now, I don’t know how much of an impact this will have on smoking rates. Smoking rates are at an all time low, 18 percent. Ohio is in the top seven states for rates of smokers – between 22 and 26 percent. The state of New York currently has the lowest rates (14 percent) and this is attributed to the combination of stringent no smoking policies and the highest tax rate on tobacco products.
I wonder, if other pharmacies would follow CVS’ example would we begin to see smoking rates drop further?
As a Dr. Mom, I certainly hope this will be a step towards lower smoking rates for Ohioans. It’s time to start taking some additional steps towards improving the health of our own people.
What do you think?(Photo above courtesy of the CVS Facebook page)
For more information on tobacco:
Facts on Teenage Smoking:
Fact on Adult Smoking:
To See the CVS statement on Tobacco Products: