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Pallone Urges Chain Drug Stores to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

April 29, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, along with 11 other Democratic members of the committee, sent a letter to Steven Anderson, President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, requesting that they urge their member retailers to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in their stores.  The lawmakers noted that since chain community pharmacies play such a crucial role in the country’s health care system, they can also play an important role in addressing the nation’s tobacco epidemic by making it increasingly difficult for people to get access to these dangerous products.  In February, CVS Caremark, the country’s largest drugstore chain in overall sales, announced that it planned to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 2014. 

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Congressman Pallone.  “Removing tobacco products from the shelves of local pharmacies shows a real commitment to improving the health of consumers.  We have a responsibility to protect our young people, and making these harmful products less available is an important step in the right direction.”

Congressman Pallone has repeatedly drawn attention to the risks that tobacco products and nicotine continue to pose to public health.  Most recently, he called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release regulations regarding the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of Electronic Cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes.  Last week, the FDA finally issued proposed regulations regarding the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.  Congressman Pallone has also expressed serious concern regarding marketing tactics being employed by some e-cigarette companies, which are similar to those previously used by tobacco companies to appeal to younger people, such as through candy flavoring, cartoon images, and event sponsorships.

Below is the full text of the letter:

April 29, 2014

Steven C. Anderson
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
1776 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22209

 

Dear Mr. Anderson,

We write to urge all of your member retailers to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in their stores.  In February of this year, CVS Caremark announced its intention to do just that, exhibiting leadership and dedication to helping people on their path to better health.  Together we must send an unmistakable message to all Americans, especially children, that tobacco product use is incompatible with health and wellness.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health.  New findings in the latest Surgeon General’s report indicate that cigarettes are even more hazardous and addictive than previously known.  Each year 480,000 Americans die from smoking-related causes and smoking costs the country over $289 billion in health bills and lost productivity.  All levels of government and the private sector have important roles to play in ending deadly addiction to tobacco.

At the federal level, we must ensure that the Food and Drug Administration can take regulatory action to protect the public from the dangers of tobacco – including banning candy-flavored cigars that appeal to our youth and ending e-cigarette marketing practices that target kids.   As President Obama has proposed in his FY 2015 Budget, Congress should raise the taxes on all tobacco products and close loopholes that let tobacco companies avoid federal taxes.  We must also remove barriers to quit attempts by making certain that tobacco cessation coverage is available to all Americans through the Affordable Care Act.

Chain community pharmacies are an important player in the health care system and as such can play a critical role in addressing the nation’s tobacco epidemic and improving public health.  As the delivery of our health system evolves and we continue to focus on better health outcomes and controlling costs, we believe that cigarettes and other tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered.  By supporting removal of tobacco products from retail pharmacy shelves and increasing access to tobacco cessation products, your members will send an unequivocal message about the dangers of tobacco use.

We look forward to working with you to reduce the toll of tobacco use and improve the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

                                                          Sincerely,

 

           Frank Pallone, Jr.                    Henry A. Waxman

           Member of Congress              Member of Congress

 

            Jan Schakowsky                     Eliot Engel

            Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

             Anna Eshoo                             Lois Capps

             Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

              Gene Green                             Doris Matsui

              Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

               Donna Christensen                  Kathy Castor

               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

                John Sarbanes                        Paul Tonko

                Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

 

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