OLEAN – CVS Caremark, a national drugstore chain, announced Feb. 5 that the company would remove tobacco products from its shelves by the end of this year, a move that prompted two area anti-tobacco groups to show their gratitude to Olean’s location.
Olean’s Reality Check and the Southern Tier Health Care System’s Tobacco Cessation Center (TCC) recently presented CVS pharmacists Josh Dynda and Katie Bush with a thank you card for CVS’s choice to be smoke-free by October 1.
Jon Chaffee, Allegany & Cattaraugus County Reality Check program coordinator, said CVS’s decision will protect young people from the commercialization of tobacco.
The tobacco industry spends more than $500,000 a day on marketing in New York State and $8.7 billion on marketing nationwide, he explained.
“Pharmacies that sell tobacco send the message to children and teens that tobacco products really aren’t dangerous, when in fact, tobacco products kill more than 400,000 Americans every year,” Mr. Chaffee.
“This is one more step to stop the tobacco industry from marketing its addictive and deadly products to our young people,” he said.
CVS is the first national pharmacy to remove tobacco products from its shelves.
Most of Olean’s independent pharmacies, such as Dan Horn, Vic Vena and Prizel’s, already do not sell tobacco products, Chaffee noted.
“By CVS following the lead of our independent, tobacco-free pharmacies, this reinforces the message that tobacco products are unsafe and not a product that should be sold by healthcare providers,” Chaffee said. “It’s one more place where young people are protected from tobacco marketing and one less place where the tobacco industry can recruit replacement smokers.”
Reality Check member Katelyn Main hopes CVS’s decision will encourage other national drugstore chains to make a change.
“Hopefully, CVS’s decision to go tobacco-free will lead other large pharmacies to follow in their footsteps and decide to protect their customers and young people from tobacco marketing,” she said.
TCC coordinator Erica Sebastian added that CVS’ decision to ban cigarette sales aligns directly with the TCC’s mission. The group offers resources and support to health care providers, mental health providers, and drug and alcohol treatment centers so they can help their patients quit smoking. These resources include nicotine replacement therapy medications, educational information for providers and patients, and staff training. It also helps businesses and organizations adopt written policies on tobacco addiction treatment and adopt tobacco-free campus policies.
“This is great news and a great opportunity for the work we are doing on this important issue,” Ms Sebastian said. “We applaud CVS for taking this step and joining independent pharmacies. Their decision sends the message that the health and safety of their customers is their top priority. »
Ms Bush, a CVS pharmacist at Olean, agreed that there are many effective drugs available and added that she was grateful to see community groups hailing CVS’s decision.
“It’s great to see the support from these groups,” Ms. Bush said, adding that she’s heard lots of compliments from customers who noticed the “thank you” sign hanging in the pharmacy section. “Smoking is a big health risk, so getting cigarettes off the shelves can help people live healthier lives.”
She said the pharmacy sees a fair share of prescriptions for nicotine patches and drugs to help people quit smoking each week and she hopes the company will see more inquiries from people who are trying to quit. .
CVS representatives say the move is a logical step given that the pharmacy’s goal is to promote healthy choices.
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at the CVS Pharmacy is the right thing to do for our customers and our business to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo , president and CEO of CVS Caremark, in an outing. “Simply put, the sale of tobacco products is incompatible with our purpose.”
For more information about Reality Check, contact Mr. Chaffee at (585) 593-1920, ext. 720. To learn more about the Southern Tier Health Care System’s Tobacco Cessation Center, visit www.sthcs.org or call 372-0614.