50 Years and One Giant Healthy Step for Humans

Bravo to CVS/Caremark!! How else can I say it? The company deserves a standing ovation for their very bold initiative: the declaration that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its CVS/pharmacy stores by October 1.


It’s interesting that this move comes at a time in history when nutrition and food sources often take center stage in the news – the battle over GMOs and lack of information on product labels.

Back in 1957, then-Surgeon  General Leroy E. Burney declared it the official position of the U.S. Public Health Service that evidence pointed to a causal relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Further research and studies were conducted and on January 11, 1964, then Surgeon General Luther L. Terry added to this by saying smoking is the most prominent cause of chronic bronchitis and referenced a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It wasn’t until a year later that Congress required all cigarette packages in the United States to carry a health warning,

CVS’s decision to stop selling tobacco products is HUGE. The company estimates the move will result in about $2 billion in lost sales. Fortunately, CVS executives are more interested in the lives that will be saved by this than the money lost. Approximately 5 million deaths each year in the United States are a result of tobacco use. (CNN) “We have about 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners helping patients manage chronic problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of which are linked to smoking,” said Larry J. Merlo, chief executive of CVS. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting.” (The New York Times)

Now, think about how many more lives might have been saved if a decision to remove tobacco from pharmacies had been made 50 years ago?

My mentors have inspired me with the saying, “When you know better, you do better.”

Food manufacturers have known the dangers of sugar, artificial flavors, pesticides, etc. for years, if not decades. Yet, more needs to be done. Retailers, such as CVS, could do more by requiring food sold in its stores to have more explicit labels to show what is REALLY in the products. For example, are the ingredients from genetically modified sources?

And we, as individuals, need to make better choices daily about what we’re eating. Let’s not let Monsanto and other bio-tech companies decide what we know about our food. Let’s fight for what we need to keep our bodies healthy and strong.  Our health and well-being is the foundation of our existence. Let’s do what we can to create a healthy environment within ourselves, and push manufacturers and retailers to do the right thing with our food supply, just as CVS is doing by not selling tobacco products.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 50 years.


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