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.
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
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