One in five.
That’s how many deaths are attributed to cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in the United States each year, making tobacco use the single most preventable cause of death in the country.
Smoking also has a significant impact on the economy, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying smoking-caused diseases result in $96 billion in health care costs each year.
The CDC reports that in West Virginia, the percentage of adults who smoked cigarettes was 28.6 percent in 2011; the percentage of youth in grades 9-12 was 19.1 percent. Among all adults, the percentage who reported being exposed to secondhand smoke was higher in West Virginia than in the nation overall.
The CDC and other agencies have long warned of the dangers that come along with tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
And now, at least one company is taking a stand.
On Wednesday, CVS Caremark, the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain, said it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1.
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
The move will cost CVS about $2 billion in annual revenue, and it was met with a positive response from everyone from public health officials all the way to the White House.
“We commend CVS for putting public health ahead of their bottom line and recognizing the need for pharmacies to focus on supporting health and wellness instead of contributing to disease and death caused by tobacco use,” the American Medical Association said.
President Barack Obama praised the decision and said the new policy “will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.”
“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and (Wednesday’s) decision will help advance my administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” he said in a statement.
CVS should be applauded for making this choice despite its impact on the company’s bottom line. It’s a choice that, as first lady Michelle Obama tweeted on Wednesday, will help us “all breathe a little easier.”
While we know the move won’t stop someone who wants to buy cigarettes — that person will now just go elsewhere — we agree with Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society, who said CVS’s move will have an effect because “every time we make it more difficult to purchase a pack of cigarettes, someone quits.”
And that’s a decision that ultimately will help save lives.
One in five.
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
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- State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core