Activists, Senators Call on Drugstores to Stop Selling Tobacco

By LeAnne Gendreau and Audrey Washington
|  Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014  |  Updated 3:57 AM EDT
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Anti-smoking activists will be meeting at a CVS pharmacy in Hartford this afternoon to call upon drug stores to follow CVS’ plan and stop selling tobacco products.

Anti-smoking activists will be meeting at a CVS pharmacy in Hartford this afternoon to call upon drug stores to follow CVS’ plan and stop selling tobacco products.

Anti-smoking activists will be meeting at a CVS pharmacy in Hartford this afternoon to call upon drug stores to follow CVS’ plan and stop selling tobacco products.

CVS announced last week that the chain will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco at its 7,600 stores nationwide by Oct. 1.

CVS said tobacco should not be sold where pharmacists and nurses work every day to help patients get well. 

U.S. Senators Blumenthal. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have also sent letters requesting Walgreen Co., Rite Aid and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to stop selling tobacco.

“We write to urge [you], as a company committed to the health and wellness of its customers, to follow CVS Caremark’s plan to stop selling tobacco products and promote cessation efforts in all stores. 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.

CVS' decision has received mixed reviews. Some have applauded the decision, while others are against it because cigarettes are legal. 

Mobilize Against Tobacco for Connecticut's Health, also called MATCH and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal will hold a news conference at noon.

MATCH included the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
 
 “Good health and tobacco simply can't be sold in the same store. Pharmacy companies cannot honestly promote health products and profit from death and addiction. We're urging all pharmacies to follow CVS in stopping cigarette sales  – sacrificing some profits but saving lives. Customers will thank and reward pharmacies that help halt tobacco addiction, disease and death  –  so horribly costly in dollars and lives to all Americans,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Put your stores truly at the corner of happy and healthy, not death and addiction. Instead of spreading the scourge of smoking, promote cessation. Selling cigarettes may be legal, but it’s not right.”

The news conference will be held at 750 Main Street in Hartford.

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