Taking Tobacco by Storm in the Fight against Chronic Disease

February 10, 2014

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) commends CVS Caremark for the bold move of ending sales of tobacco in its 7,600 locations nationwide. Use of tobacco products remains a significant public health problem in the U.S. and, despite the risks, one in five adults still smokes. CVS’s decision is a meaningful step forward in the fight against chronic disease, particularly if others follow suit.

Hailed by President Obama and applauded nationwide for this powerful announcement, CVS posed the decision quite simply - selling tobacco while promoting wellness just does not add up. CVS Caremark’s president specifically called out chronic disease as the main focus of the chain’s ongoing wellness offerings and the exact dichotomy they came to face by also offering tobacco products in their stores. The decision to walk away from tobacco is estimated to cost the chain nearly $2 billion annually but prevention pays and this move will surely save lives and stem health care costs.

Today about 18% of U.S. adults are current smokers. The move, made at the start of American Heart Month and the day following World Cancer Day, underscores PFCD’s message about the real value of the fight against chronic disease as the number one cause of death, disability and rising health care costs in our country today. Total lost productivity due to chronic disease amounts to trillions of dollar per year in our country making moves like CVS Caremark’s even more sound, with any luck the power of prevention will continue to take hold elsewhere to keep American healthy and prospering.