US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Following CVS Announcement, Eight Senators Urge Drug Stores to Remove Tobacco Products From Stores

Senators Cite Tobacco-Related Deaths and Staggering Public Health Costs, Say Removal of Tobacco Products Will Complement Federal Efforts to Save Lives and Reduce Health Costs

Monday, February 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the heels of an announcement from CVS Caremark that the company plans to pull tobacco products from its more than 7,600 U.S. stores, eight senators—led by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)—urged other chain drug stores to follow CVS’ example, remove tobacco products from their shelves, and promote tobacco cessation efforts in its stores.

Senators Harkin, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent letters making the request to Gregory Wasson, CEO of Walgreen Co.; John Standley, CEO of Rite Aid Corporation, and Steven Anderson, President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). “In recognition of the 8.6 million Americans who currently suffer from smoking-caused illnesses, we hope you will join this national effort end the scourge of tobacco use,” the senators wrote.

“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.

In urging the drug stores to remove tobacco products from their shelves, the senators also cited the nearly half a million tobacco-related deaths and staggering health costs related to tobacco use. “The impact of tobacco on our nation’s children is impossible to ignore – 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed. These findings highlight the critical need for all sectors of our community to play a role in ending the unnecessary disease and death that results from tobacco use.”

The senators added that removing tobacco products from store shelves and promoting tobacco cessation efforts will also complement federal efforts to reduce unnecessary deaths and skyrocketing health care costs. They cited the continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s “Tips from a Former Smoker” and FDA’s new “The Real Cost” campaign, and no-cost access to smoking cessation therapies under the Affordable Care Act.


Copies of the letters can be seen below and online: Walgreen Co. letter, Rite Aid letter, NACDS letter.

Gregory D. Wasson
Chief Executive Officer
Walgreen Co.
200 Wilmot Rd
Deerfield, IL 60015

Dear Mr. Wasson,

We write to urge Walgreens, 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, Walgreens has the power to further foster the health and wellness of its customers and send a critical message to all Americans – and especially children – about the dangers of tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s historic announcement comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, and new revelations in the latest Surgeon General’s report that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation’s health than previously known. Smoking kills 480,000 Americans annually, sickens millions more, and costs the nation more than $289 billion every year. The impact of tobacco on our nation’s children is impossible to ignore – 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed. These findings highlight the critical need for all sectors of our community to play a role in ending the unnecessary disease and death that results from tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s bold and admirable decision will complement federal efforts to save lives and reduce health care costs through continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, access to smoking cessation therapies with no out-of-pocket expenses under the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s “Tips from a Former Smoker” and FDA’s new “The Real Cost” campaign.

In recognition of the 8.6 million Americans who currently suffer from smoking-caused illnesses, we hope you will join this national effort to end the scourge of tobacco use. We look forward to working with you in a joint effort to promote the health of all Americans.

John T. Standley
Chief Executive Officer
Rite Aid Corporation
PO Box 3165
Harrisburg, PA 17105

Dear Mr. Standley,

We write to urge Rite Aid, 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, Rite Aid has the power to further foster the health and wellness of its customers and send a critical message to all Americans – and especially children – about the dangers of tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s historic announcement comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, and new revelations in the latest Surgeon General’s report that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation’s health than previously known. Smoking kills 480,000 Americans annually, sickens millions more, and costs the nation more than $289 billion every year. The impact of tobacco on our nation’s children is impossible to ignore – 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed. These findings highlight the critical need for all sectors of our community to play a role in ending the unnecessary disease and death that results from tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s bold and admirable decision will complement federal efforts to save lives and reduce health care costs through continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, access to smoking cessation therapies with no out-of-pocket expenses under the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s “Tips from a Former Smoker” and FDA’s new “The Real Cost” campaign.

In recognition of the 8.6 million Americans who currently suffer from smoking-caused illnesses, we hope you will join this national effort to end the scourge of tobacco use. We look forward to working with you in a joint effort to promote the health of all Americans.

Steven C. Anderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
1776 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22209

Dear Mr. Anderson,

We write to urge all of your member retailers, as companies committed to the health and wellness of their customers, to follow CVS Caremark’s recent plan to stop selling tobacco products and promote cessation efforts. We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products, however we also believe that your members 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, your members have the power to further foster the health and wellness of their customers and send a critical message to all Americans – and especially children – about the dangers of tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s historic announcement comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, and new revelations in the latest Surgeon General’s report that smoking is even more hazardous and takes an even greater toll on the nation’s health than previously known. Smoking kills 480,000 Americans annually, sickens millions more, and costs the nation more than $289 billion every year. The impact of tobacco on our nation’s children is impossible to ignore – 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18, and 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed. These findings highlight the critical need for all sectors of our community to play a role in ending the unnecessary disease and death that results from tobacco use.

CVS Caremark’s bold and admirable decision will complement federal efforts to save lives and reduce health care costs through continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, access to smoking cessation therapies with no out-of-pocket expenses under the Affordable Care Act, and the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like CDC’s “Tips from a Former Smoker” and FDA’s new “The Real Cost” campaign.

In recognition of the 8.6 million Americans who currently suffer from smoking-caused illnesses, we hope you will join this national effort to end the scourge of tobacco use. We look forward to working with you in a joint effort to promote the health of all Americans.

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