New Actions on Tobacco Welcomed

February 1, 2014 Elle Alexander, Derek Yach

Within weeks of the 50th Anniversary of the US Surgeon General’s report on tobacco, the public and private sectors have taken decisive steps to address the prevention of tobacco. The FDA’s new national media campaign aims to reach kids with messages that appeal to them in novel ways. They know tobacco kills, but that is way off in the future. Wrinkles, smelly breath and breathlessness worry them now. This new campaign may herald the start of the end of tobacco use by America’s youth.

Within days of the FDA announcement, a major retailer known more for health then tobacco announced it would cease selling tobacco products.  Action by CVS pharmacy was initiated without legal obligation, due rather to a growing realization that health is a long term winner for business and society. And how better to show this then by ditching cigarettes, the only consumer product that kills up to half its regular users when used as designed!

This voluntary action will no doubt spur other pharmacies to follow this lead. Competitors with slogans such as “Be Well” and “At the corner of happy and healthy” can no longer continue business as usual while selling deadly products. This is how we hope market forces would work. Companies drawing on well-formed scientific evidence and acting to support consumer health will be rewarded by mutual supportive action by other actors and consumers. When companies compete to prevent disease and promote health – in time business wins as society does.

The Vitality Institute is focused on promoting tobacco smoking cessation through research and advocacy, and are launching studies in the United States and South Africa in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania to determine the most effective strategies for tobacco cessation using incentives and nicotine technologies. We hope all pharmacies clear their shelves of tobacco to make access easier for cessation products and non tobacco e-cigs and urge consumers to support CVS pharmacy and similar retailers with their business and push more companies to follow.

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