AG Gansler Urges Pharmacy Retail Chains to Stop Selling Tobacco Products
Move comes on heels of CVS announcement in February
Baltimore, MD (March 17, 2014) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, joined by 27 other state and territorial attorneys general, today called on the largest pharmacy chains in the United States to stop selling tobacco products. In a letter sent earlier today, the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger were urged to follow the example set by CVS Caremark Corporation when it announced last month that it would remove all tobacco products from store shelves by the fall of 2014.
"It makes no sense for a health care retailer to also be the neighborhood supplier of deadly and addictive tobacco products," said Attorney General Gansler. "Drug stores and pharmacies that sell tobacco are sending mixed messages, especially to our children."
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.
From the Attorneys General letter to the major pharmacy chains:
There is a contradiction in having these dangerous and devastating tobacco products on the shelves of a retail chain that services health care needs. The availability of such products in a retail store that also serves as a pharmacy normalizes tobacco use; furthermore, selling tobacco products in the same store as smoking-cessation products is likely to increase impulse tobacco purchases among those trying to quit and undermines their efforts. In a recent year, nearly 70% of smokers said they wanted to quit; however, only approximately 4% were able to do so.
The normalization and easy availability of tobacco products represent a significant threat to youth, who are particularly susceptible to social and environmental encouragements to use tobacco…
Maryland and other states sued the major tobacco companies for the harm and the associated health care costs caused by their products. To resolve these lawsuits, the states entered into the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the most significant public health agreement of our time. Maryland still receives over $125 million a year from that settlement.
To see copies of the letters sent to Kroger, Rite Aid, Safeway, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, as well as the letter commending CVS for its actions, click the links or visit: