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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eight senators have joined together to ask drug store chains across the country to follow in CVS Caremark Corp.'s footsteps and pull tobacco products from their shelves. The effort is led by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA).
Sens. Harkin, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent letters stating their request to Gregory Wasson, CEO of Walgreen Co.; John Standley, CEO of Rite Aid Corp., and Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
The requests came just days after CVS revealed it will stop selling tobacco products as of Oct. 1. The Woonsocket, R.I.-based retailer has more than 7,600 U.S. stores.
"We write to urge [you], as a company committed to the health and wellness of its customers, to follow CVS Caremark's plan to stop selling tobacco products and promote cessation efforts in all stores. We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products; however, we also believe that you are in a position to have a major positive impact on public health," the senators wrote. "By reducing the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products and increasing access to tobacco cessation products, [you have] the power to further foster the health and wellness of [your] customers and send a critical message to all Americans -- and especially children -- about the dangers of tobacco use."
The senators added that removing tobacco products from store shelves and promoting tobacco cessation efforts will also complement federal efforts to reduce deaths and rising health-care costs. They cited the continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the ongoing success of public awareness campaigns like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "Tips from a Former Smoker" and the Food and Drug Administration's new "The Real Cost" campaign, and no-cost access to smoking cessation therapies under the Affordable Care Act.