CVS sets higher health standards
Decision to pull tobacco important step to reducing smoking
Tobacco sales at CVS collected a total of $2 billion a year. But beginning this month, every CVS across the nation is taking all tobacco products off the shelves. It’s the second-largest drugstore chain in the country and the first to take this important step in the campaign to end smoking. In addition, the company is launching a smoking-cessation campaign to help smokers quit and provide them with resources, support and medication to avoid relapsing.According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco is “the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States,” and 443,000 deaths are attributed to tobacco use every year, including exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking isn’t cool anymore, and it looks like corporations are finally realizing it too. Everyone is aware of the health hazards associated with smoking — including most smokers — but as long as there’s a steady and available supply, there will continue to be a demand. Limiting accessibility to tobacco is probably the best possible first step to take if we want to limit its use. There are a lot of people who go to their local CVS to get cigarettes, and now that it’s not an option anymore, smoking will be a lot more inconvenient.This is the same kind of approach we think Rutgers should use to eliminate smoking from our campus, too. This May, the state Assembly advanced a bill that would ban smoking on all college campuses in New Jersey. At Rutgers, smoking is already banned inside all academic, residential and University-owned buildings, but it’s still allowed outdoors around campus. We don’t think that banning it outside is a bad idea at all. In fact, it would probably make a huge difference in the prevalence of regular smoking among students. We don’t want to be the kind of campus that’s known for its bad smoking habit, and now that we’re in the Big Ten, the administration has been paying even more attention to appearances. Seven of the schools in the Big Ten have banned all smoking on their campuses, and we hope Rutgers joins them. Of course, at a school like Rutgers, there are some pretty vague boundaries of where “on campus” ends and where “off campus” begins (especially on the College Avenue campus). But any steps to further the stigmatization of smoking in a college environment will help reduce it. Most people entering college are 18 years old, and it’s generally a stage in our lives where we’re willing to experiment with and try new things. But if the accessibility of cigarettes and available places to smoke are restricted on campus, it could have a huge impact on already dwindling numbers of students who are smokers. The Rutgers University Student Assembly conducted the “What’s On Your Mind?” survey of the student body last year and received 2,012 responses. Of these, 56 percent said that they would support a smoke-free Rutgers campus. Seventy-nine percent said they had not smoked in the past 30 days, and 83 percent were not acquainted with smokers. From this survey, it seems to us that the general attitude among students toward smoking is not very favorable, and most would be on board with a ban all across campus. From giant companies such as CVS to college campuses across the country, the movement against tobacco use is finally becoming more practical than simple awareness campaigns. Sticking a Surgeon General’s warning on every pack of cigarettes clearly isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about smoking, but if more companies and institutions take action and stop endorsing tobacco altogether, we might make some more progress.