CVS To Leave Chamber of Commerce Over Tobacco Policies
On Tuesday, CVS Health announced that it would leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in response to recent revelations that the chamber has advocated for tobacco deregulation in foreign countries, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports (Bogage, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 7/7).
The New York Times recently reported that the chamber and its foreign affiliates have lobbied against antismoking laws, such as restrictions on menthol cigarettes and public smoking bans. Such efforts mainly were in developing countries (Swamynathan/Pandey, Reuters, 7/7). The chamber consists of more than three million members and is the largest trade group in the U.S.
CVS Health Announcement
David Palombi, a senior vice president at CVS Health, said, "CVS Health's purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose" (Hakim, New York Times, 7/7).
CVS, the second-largest drugstore in the U.S., stopped selling tobacco products last year as part of a move to focus on health care (AP/Los Angeles Times, 7/7). The company offers smoking cessation products and helped conduct a study on the topic.
"We believe the chamber has advocated for many important causes over the years, and we thank them for their leadership on these issues," Palombi said, adding, "Given the leadership position we took last year in removing tobacco products from our stores, however, we have decided to withdraw our membership in the chamber" (New York Times, 7/7).
The chamber in a statement said it does not aim to promote tobacco use but rather is working protect intellectual property rights, make sure international agreements are upheld and fighting discriminatory treatment of unpopular industries (AP/Los Angeles Times, 7/7).
It added that CVS' departure was "unfortunate" and that reports on its stance on tobacco were part of a "concerted misinformation campaign." A spokesperson for the chamber said, "To be clear, the chamber does not support smoking and wants people to quit," adding, "We promote wellness nationally and globally and we sponsor smoking cessation plans for our own employees."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) supported CVS' decision. Blumenthal was one of seven senators last week who spoke out against the chamber's actions. In a statement, he said, "We urge other members to stand up against the Chamber's deceptive and dismaying sell out to Big Tobacco and emulate CVS" ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 7/7).
Survey: Majority OK With Higher Smoking Age
In related news, 75% of U.S. residents support increasing the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21, according to a report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Tuesday, the Washington Post's "To Your Health" reports.
The minimum age for buying tobacco is 18 in most states, 19 in four states and 21 in one state and several municipalities.
For the report, researchers from CDC surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. adults (Dennis, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 7/7).
The researchers found:
- 50.4% strongly favor raising the smoking age to 21; and
- 24.6% somewhat favor raising the smoking age to 21.
Further, support for raising the age to 21 was:
- 77.5% among people who have never smoked;
- 74.6% among former smokers; and
- 69.9% among current smokers (King et al., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 7/7).
CDC's Office on Smoking and Health Acting Deputy Director Brian King, a co-author of the report, in a statement said increasing the smoking age to 21 "could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit." An Institute of Medicine report from earlier this year came to the same conclusion ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 7/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.