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.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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