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Merlo honored for CVS' phaseout of tobacco products
May 16th, 2014
WASHINGTON – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has recognized Larry Merlo, president and chief executive officer of CVS Caremark Corp., with its Champion Award for the company's leadership in reducing tobacco use.
The nonprofit group honored Merlo and CVS Caremark at its annual awards gala Thursday evening in Washington, D.C. At the event, the Campaign also recognized young leaders in the fight against tobacco use with its Youth Advocates of the Year awards.
The Campaign noted that in February CVS Caremark announced a plan to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy drug stores by Oct. 1. CVS is the first national pharmacy chain to end tobacco sales. The company also announced that it will launch a national smoking cessation program to help smokers quit.
"CVS Caremark's courageous decision represents one of the strongest actions any business has taken to address the enormous public health problems caused by tobacco use," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement. "It will reduce the availability of cigarettes and other tobacco products, sets a powerful example for other retailers to follow and sends an unmistakable message that tobacco use is incompatible with the health of our communities. This decision will save lives and move us closer to creating a tobacco-free generation."
CVS Caremark's phaseout of tobacco products comes as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, released in 1964, the Campaign added. Although U.S. smoking rates have dropped by more than half — from 42.4% in 1965 to 18.1% in 2012 — tobacco use is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death, the group noted.
According to the latest Surgeon General's report released in January, the group said, tobacco use kills 480,000 Americans and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year. The Surgeon General also found that 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed.