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Posted by (name unknown) on Feb 7th, 2014 9:59am

CVS Caremark's ground breaking decision to stop selling tobacco products at its stores nationwide is a major public service and health advance. The pharmacy chain is to be applauded and supported for its smart and right decision. By "calling it quits" on tobacco sales, which netted the company more than $2 billion annually, CVS sends a clear message that the company values its customers' good health.

The pharmacy chain now joins a growing group of hospitals, clinics and physician practices in Massachusetts that are committed to population health management through the elimination of tobacco products from their workplaces and in some cases, from their workforces themselves with hiring bans on smokers. Only last month the nation marked the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's first warning about the dangers of tobacco. Today smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go, which makes the CVS ban a major win in the right direction.

In 2011, the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) launched a statewide tobacco free initiative and now more than 76% of our member hospitals completely ban the use of tobacco products anywhere on their campuses. Some hospitals in Massachusetts, as well as MHA, have taken their commitment to public health a step beyond instituting tobacco-free hiring policies as well. These facilities have all earned inclusion on MHA's Tobacco-free Honor Roll.

CVS may have an easier time implementing their ban here in Massachusetts than in many other states, since some 79 cities and towns here – covering roughly half the population – have already banned drugstores from selling tobacco products, according to The Boston Globe. Massachusetts is also home to Tobacco-Free Mass., a coalition seeking to reduce tobacco use across the state (MHA is a proud member).

As CVS moves forward with this health initiative, MHA offers its unqualified support. I hope more healthcare retailers follow their excellent example.

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