GREENSBURG — Healthcare providers around the county welcomed Wednesday’s announcement by CVS Pharmacy that the company will permanently discontinue all tobacco sales Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, the investment community and smokers alike appear to be greeting the news with a collective shrug.
Decatur County Health Department public health nurse Sue Colee told the Daily News the decision makes sense from a public health perspective. After all, she said, CVS is in the business of “making people well” and preventing illness. For the company to sell those same people a product known to be one of the biggest causes of preventable disease and death amounts to a huge contradiction. “From a common sense perspective,” she said, “it’s a good decision.”
Collee wasn’t comfortable, however, predicting whether the move might lead to lower smoking rates in Decatur County, but whatever the case, she said, “it’s a good step, and I admire CVS for doing it. It feels like we’ve got a new ally in healthcare with this decision.”
The veteran nurse added that, in a community where smoking rates are high, she sometimes gets frustrated when trying to educate patients on smoking’s health consequences, because she often spots those same patients smoking outside the clinic after an appointment. CVS’s decision, she said, feels like the case of a corporation understanding such frustration and trying to do something about it.
Cindy Daihl, Cancer Care manager at Decatur County Memorial Hospital also commended the move.
“We applaud CVS in their decision to no longer carry tobacco products,” she said. “Tobacco use is a major risk factor in many types of cancers and other diseases we see come into our hospital.”
This decision, she added, “helps us support the continuous efforts for better health in our community.”
Indiana State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D., was also pleased with the decision. In an email to the Daily News, VanNess proclaimed, “We applaud CVS/Caremark for boldly acting to remove tobacco products at all pharmacy locations, including nearly 300 stores in Indiana. This is a strong public health intervention that will reduce the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products and sends a message to all Hoosiers, especially children, that tobacco use is uniquely harmful and socially unacceptable.”