Dana-Farber Cancer Institute applauds the decision by CVS Caremark to stop sales of all cigarettes and tobacco products by October. There is probably no other single step that CVS could take that would go as far to promote the health and well-being of its customers.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is responsible for an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including 49,000 deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the National Cancer Institute. Many of those deaths are from lung cancer, but smoking is also linked to cancers of the throat, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
As news reports have indicated, CVS is giving up a substantial revenue stream by taking this action. Fortunately, the benefits of reducing tobacco availability — in fewer doctor's visits, fewer days of work lost to illness, less loss of life and a generally healthier population — far outweigh any calculation of dollars and cents.
This step, by the nation's second-largest pharmacy chain, sends a powerful signal that tobacco products have no place at a retail organization dedicated to health. We hope that other retailers will see the enormous contribution that they could make to the nation's health if they were to join CVS in ridding their shelves of these products.
Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute