It isn’t often you’ll read praise here for anything connected to pharmaceutical enterprises. But let’s give credit where it’s due, in this case to a giant drug store chain and its foundation: They’ve pledged $50 million over five years to an anti-smoking campaign aimed at snuffing out the lethal habit in the young.
CVC won lots of favorable public attention and praise from the health care community when it chose in 2014 to stop selling tobacco products. The company said it made no sense for it to be in the health care business but also to be selling tobacco products so detrimental to the nation’s health. The company’s end of tobacco sales had measurable effects.
The drug store chain and its foundation has set concrete goals for its campaign: cutting the national youth smoking rate by 3 percent, reducing the number of new youth smokers by 10 percent, and doubling the number of college campuses that ban tobacco use and products.
I’ve written before about how noxious smoking is to Americans’ health, and how Big Tobacco has targeted the young, including by trying to get them hooked into nicotine-dispensing products like e-cigarettes for “vaping.” I’ve noted that early research indicates that vaping acts as a “gateway” behavior that can lead young users to smoke.
It’s tough to get unhooked from smoking, which U.S. health officials say remains “the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Smoking causes immediate damage to your body, which can lead to long-term health problems. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.”
CVS’ chief medical officer explained the company’s latest anti-smoking commitment, saying: “We are at a critical moment in our nation’s efforts to end the epidemic of tobacco use that continues to kill more people than any other preventable cause of death, and threatens the health and well-being of our next generation. Ensuring our youth stay tobacco-free requires increased education and awareness of healthy behaviors.”
Be First funding will go, the company says, to programs led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and educational publisher Scholastic, as well as the cancer society and the National Urban League.