I want to publicly applaud and thank CVS Pharmacy for announcing they are no longer selling cigarettes. This is a bold move forward, one that hopefully will begin a trend for other pharmacies to follow.

The new mission of CVS is to become a health care destination that’s reflected in their new name: CVS Health. They want to emphasize this new focus by offering a cessation program through their company, while also selling cessation products in their stores.  

The White House praised the company, asking for other retailers to follow suit. I pray their words do not fall on deaf ears.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking-related diseases remain the most preventable cause of death. Since the announcement by the Surgeon General in 1964 about the dangers of smoking, there have been more than 15 million premature deaths attributable to smoking in the U.S.

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Our grandparents and parents generation had little to no information about the dangers of smoking. I can visualize parties where guests thought it was stylish to hold a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other. Cigarette advertisements on TV and in print media promoted smoking as “something to use for digestion” and in 1950 claimed, “More doctors smoked this brand than any other.” (Camel) 

When I was in high school the “cool” kids smoked in the bathroom. If you had to pee and were a nonsmoker (like me) look out!  You needed to brace yourself for the terrible odor that permeated the room. When you were done with your business, your clothes smelled of smoke for the rest of the day.

 

Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, is a health hazard. In 2006 the U.S. Surgeon General published a report that determined that secondhand smoke contains human carcinogens with no safe levels for exposure. More than 88 million people from the ages of 3 and older were estimated as being exposed to secondhand smoke in 2006 – 2008.

That’s an astronomical figure.

I hope that future generations will be smarter about the dangers of cigarette smoking than we were. I am grateful that my son hates the smell, and I hope his peers feel the same.

A group of seniors at a Connecticut high school took matters against smoking into their own hands. A teacher at the Daniel Hand High School in Madison was undergoing cancer treatment when she spotted a child getting out of his car on his way to chemotherapy.  His mother was smoking during their drive. After hearing the story, the seniors at the school decided to do what they could to change a state law to ban smoking in cars while children ages 6 and under are present. If enacted it would be a secondary offense, enforced only if the driver is pulled over for another infringement. 

Secondary? Well, at least it’s a start, and a good one. I congratulate these students who are taking positive steps toward creating a healthier world for themselves and those around them.

A world without smoking is a world that is one step closer to preventing thousands of cancers each year. That is my vision of Utopia. 

 

Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, which won third prize in Healthline’s Best Health Blog Contest in 2014, was named #2 of the “Top 10 Social HealthMakers in MS” by Sharecare “ and received a nomination for the past 3 years as WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog. She is a contributor for The Huffington Post as well as a blogger for MultipleSclerosis.net and Boomeon. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, Erma Bombecks’ Writers Circle, The Friendship Circle and Woman at Woodstock.