CVS tobacco decision garnering positive reactions

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Elected officials from Providence City Hall all the way to the White House are reacting to CVS Caremark’s decision to eliminate tobacco products from its more than 7,000 drugstores.

Reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, as President Barack Obama and several local politicians and organizations issued statements lauding the Woonsocket-based pharmacy giant’s choice to move away from the tobacco market.

Several full statements are listed below.

President Barack Obama

I applaud this morning’s news that CVS Caremark has decided to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its stores, and begin a national campaign to help millions of Americans quit smoking instead. As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my Administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs – ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come. I congratulate – and thank – the CEO of CVS Caremark, Larry Merlo, the board of directors, and all who helped make a choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed

I commend CVS Caremark for voluntarily taking tobacco products off their shelves. CVS is a trusted brand that focuses on health and wellness and they reached this decision on their own because they understand that tobacco use and public health don’t mix. Our nation has come a long way in reducing smoking, but it is still a major public health problem and an economic problem that costs Americans billions of dollars each year in health care costs.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked on initiatives to educate young people about the dangers of smoking, supported measures to ban smoking in schools, and worked to enhance the FDA’s ability to regulate the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These are important laws, but we also need partners in the business community, like CVS, to help us reduce tobacco use and improve public health.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

I am proud to see CVS Caremark – a leading Rhode Island business – take action to protect Americans’ health. As the U.S. Surgeon General recently reported, thousands of Americans die early from smoking each year, costing the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Yet thousands of our children try their first cigarette every day. I hope that other companies will follow this example of corporate citizenship and act to promote the health and well-being of the American people.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline

I rise today to applaud CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its more than 7,600 stores across the U.S. CVS, which is based in my home district in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, is leading the way in promoting public health and wellness, and I hope other U.S. pharmacies will follow their example.

I would particularly like to thank Larry J. Merlo, the President and CEO of CVS Caremark, Helena B. Foulkes, the President of CVS/pharmacy, the board of directors, and their staffs for their commitment to putting people over profits.

As one of the nation’s largest retail and pharmacy chains, CVS Pharmacy has helped countless Rhode Islanders and people across the nation better manage their health.

The negative impacts of tobacco use are well known – it causes lung cancer, diabetes, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Taking this product off the shelves, continues CVS Caremark’s long tradition of helping people improve their health and wellness, and undermines big tobacco’s active marketing to persuade future generations of Americans to take up this deadly habit.

I salute CVS Caremark and their efforts to help Americans live, longer healthier lives, and I am so proud of their decision and corporate leadership.”


R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee

This must have been a difficult decision for the corporation and the board to weigh the benefits of making the conscientious choice versus the possibility of jeopardizing the bottom line. I applaud CVS/Caremark for taking the right fork in the road.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras

Providence has been a national leader in the fight to restrict the sale of flavored and discounted tobacco products and I am proud that the Rhode Island-based CVS has taken a leading role to end the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. Pharmacies are trusted sources of health information for consumers, and the choice to stop selling tobacco products demonstrates CVS’ commitment to the wellbeing of its customers. While the tobacco prevention movement still has a long way to go, CVS’ announcement is a heartening step forward and a testament to the hard work of tobacco prevention advocates across our city, state and nation.

Director of R.I. Health Dept. Dr. Michael Fine

In public health we know that the reduction of access to tobacco is the best way to reduce smoking. This may be the biggest advance in smoking cessation since the tobacco settlement in 1998, and we should be proud that a Rhode Island company is leading the way. The Department of Health calls on all Rhode Island retailers to follow this momentous effort by CVS/Caremark and put their customers’ health first.

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