This week’s announcement by CVS Pharmacy that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products is being applauded at North Conway’s Memorial Hospital.
CVS has more than 7,600 stores across the U.S. – including one in North Conway – and it says it is the first national pharmacy chain to take the step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.
The manager of the North Conway CVS store declines to comment on the move, citing corporate policy. But CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry J. Merlo released a statement Wednesday saying “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
Merlo says smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the U.S., with more than 480,000 deaths each year – and while the number of adults who smoke has decreased from 42 percent in 1965 to 18 percent today, the rate of reduction has stalled. He says more interventions, such as reducing the availability of cigarettes, are needed.
Joyce Smith is the cardiopulmonary supervisor at Memorial Hospital in North Conway. She has worked there nearly three decades and supervised numerous smoking cessation programs to help people quit smoking.
She says the decision by CVS takes a strong stand in the war on smoking and use of tobacco – and it’s a serious sign by CVS that it is dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles.
Smith agrees there has been a decline in smoking but she says the habit is still prominent with teenagers.
CVS says it will remove all cigarettes and tobacco products from its stores by Oct. 1, 2014.