With smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer, this week’s decision by drugstore chain CVS Caremark to stop selling tobacco products is an important step toward saving lives.
The ban makes the statement that tobacco products are unhealthy and should not be sold in businesses that promote health. The move could have a ripple effect, prompting other retailers to stop selling cigarettes, too.
In announcing its decision, CVS said simply that it’s the right thing to do: “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health. Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered.”
CVS, the No. 2 drugstore operator, has more than 7,600 stores across the United States. All stores will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1. As part of the change, CVS will offer a smoking cessation program online and in its stores.
Dr. Daniel Nader, our National Clinical Director of Pulmonary/Critical Care, supports the company’s plan. Reducing the availability of cigarettes will reduce smoking rates in the long run, Nader says.
“I consider this a bold move for a retailer that is promoting health not only by reducing availability of tobacco but by offering smoking cessation programs in the future,” Nader says. “If other retailers will follow this lead, these partners of the medical community can make a dramatic impact on reducing smoking-related diseases.”
Lung cancer remains one of the most common cancers among Americans. Last year, an estimated 228,190 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 159,480 people died from the disease. Only prostate and breast cancer are more common, but lung cancer is the top cancer that affects both men and women.
Fewer Americans smoke today than did before anti-smoking efforts and laws banning smoking in public places, airplanes and restaurants took effect. In 1965, 42 percent of the population smoked, compared with 18 percent today. Health experts, though, are concerned there has been little progress in getting more people to quit.
Here are a few good reasons to quit smoking yourself or to encourage someone you know to do so:
- To get healthy: Quitting reduces your risk of cancer and other health problems, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Your body can repair the damage caused by smoking once you aren’t smoking anymore.
- To save money: Smoking is an expensive habit, costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars depending on how many packs you smoke a day.
- To care for your loved ones: Secondhand smoke isn’t healthy for your friends and family, who can develop lung cancer and heart disease because of your smoking. Children of smokers are more prone to chest colds and ear infections, and babies of mothers who smoke have an increased risk of premature delivery, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Have you or someone you know tried to quit smoking? What do you think of CVS’s decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products? We invite you to share your thoughts and to learn more about the Tobacco Cessation Program at our hospital near Phoenix.