New York, NY - September 3, 2014 - Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today released the following statement on the decision by CVS Health to stop tobacco sales as of September 3, nearly a month earlier than planned:
“By accelerating its plan to remove tobacco from store shelves, CVS has prioritized public health over corporate profit, and I applaud them for that. CVS clearly recognizes the contradiction of having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services consumers’ health care needs.
“I call on other major pharmacy chains across the country – including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger – to remove tobacco products from their shelves immediately. As pharmacies increasingly market themselves as a source for community health care, they send a mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products. The fact that these stores profit from the sale of cigarettes and tobacco must take a backseat to the health of New Yorkers and customers across the country.”
In March, Attorney General Schneiderman and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine led the Attorneys General of 28 other states and territories in a national effort calling on major pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products.
Tobacco-related disease is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths in the last year alone – more than AIDS, alcohol, illegal drug use, car accidents and firearm-related deaths combined. Since 1965, more than 20 million Americans have died prematurely as a result of smoking. The devastating health effects of these tobacco products have been well documented for more than 50 years, since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of smoking.
Furthermore, health care costs and productivity losses attributable to smoking cost the nation at least $289 billion each year. Almost 90% of all adult smokers start smoking by 18 years of age. “Big Tobacco” relies on getting young people addicted to cigarettes and keeping them as life-long smokers.
Attorney General Schneiderman has successfully undertaken a number of efforts to keep tobacco out of the hands of young New Yorkers. Under his leadership, the state’s Tobacco Compliance Bureau has cracked down on websites illegally selling cigarettes, which provide teens with easy access to tobacco, and shut down so-called “roll your own” cigarette shops in New York City, which were popular among teenagers and young adults. The Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecution Bureau has also taken down a cigarette trafficking ring that operated up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
Image by Michal Zacharzewski via Free Images.