To the editor:
The Story County Prevention Policy Board wishes to commend CVS Pharmacy on its recent decision to eliminate tobacco products in its stores. CVS announced that these products are inconsistent with helping people on their path to better health. We agree. Corporations like Target have had this policy since 1996. We applaud this bold example. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable deaths worldwide. Sixteen million Americans already have at least one disease from smoking. Smoking causes nine out of 10 lung cancers. In the U.S, approximately 480,000 people die each year from smoking, with 56,000 of those from the effects of second hand smoke. The emergence of nicotine products, though promoted as cessation aids, are no safer. Nicotine is recognized as the most addictive of all substances and is itself, a poison.
Some argue this will not reduce smoking levels because smokers will take their business elsewhere, but research does not bear that out. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies strategies that help reduce substance abuse. Restrictions on retail sales or sellers (number, location, density, days and hours of sale) have reduced the rate of smoking by Americans from 42 percent in 1964 to today’s average of 20 percent. In 2005, 10.7 percent of all pregnant women smoked, down almost 45 percent in 1990. CVS recognizes that it will lose almost $2 billion from lost sales, and it has been suggested that the taxpayer will also lose a net $25.4 billion each year from tobacco tax collections. However, tobacco-related health costs for the U.S. taxpayer total over $193 billion annually, hardly a fair economic tradeoff.
CVS has stated that this is the right thing to do. The Story County Prevention Policy Board encourages more businesses to step up and do the same.
Karen Mills and Kipp Van Dyke
Story County Prevention Policy Board members