Senators Urge Walgreens, Rite Aid, Other Drug Stores to Drop Tobacco

Letter asks channel to follow lead of CVS in ending sales of cigarettes, OTP

Tom Harkin

Tom Harkin

WASHINGTON -- On the heels of an announcement from CVS that the company plans to pull tobacco products from its more than 7,600 U.S. drug stores, eight senators--led by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)--urged other chain drug stores to follow CVS' example, remove tobacco products from their shelves and promote tobacco cessation efforts in their stores.

Senators Harkin, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dick Durbin (D-lll.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent letters making the request to Gregory Wasson, CEO of Walgreen Co., John Standley, CEO of Rite Aid Corp., and Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS).

"We write to urge [you], as a company committed to the health and wellness of its customers, to follow CVS Caremark's plan to stop selling tobacco products and promote cessation efforts in all stores. We recognize the legality of selling and profiting from tobacco products; however, we also believe that you are in a position to have a major positive impact on public health. By reducing the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products and increasing access to tobacco cessation products, [you have] the power to further foster the health and wellness of [your] customers and send a critical message to all Americans--and especially children--about the dangers of tobacco use," the senators wrote.

The senators added that removing tobacco products from store shelves and promoting tobacco cessation efforts will also complement federal efforts to reduce unnecessary deaths and skyrocketing health care costs. They cited the continued implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act, public awareness campaigns such as the Center for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) "Tips from a Former Smoker," the Food& Drug Administration's (FDA) new "The Real Cost" campaign and no-cost access to smoking cessation therapies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Click here to view the full text of the letter.