CVS Caremarks announcement that CVS/pharmacy stores will no longer sell cigarettes and other tobacco products is an unprecedented step in the retail industry. We also commend CVS Caremark on their new national smoking cessation program. With more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy locations, this private sector health leaders new policy will have considerable impact.
Last month, I called on all sectors of the United States from businesses to local and state governments to the faith community to join in the Obama Administrations sustained effort to make the next generation tobacco-free. Smoking takes an enormous toll on our friends, families and communities. As we know from the recently released 50th Anniversary Surgeon General Report on smoking and health, nearly 500,000 Americans die early each year due to smoking, and smoking costs us $289 billion annually. Each day, more than 3,200 youth under age 18 in the United States try their first cigarette and more than 700 kids under age 18 become daily smokers. If we fail to reverse course, 5.6 million American children alive today will die prematurely due to smoking. This is unacceptable.
We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to take tobacco products out of the hands of Americas young generation, and to help those who are addicted to quit. Todays CVS Caremark announcement helps bring our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation. I hope others will follow their lead in this important new step to curtail tobacco use.