CVS Caremark to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

CVS Caremark pharmacies will phase out tobacco in U.S. retail stores by Oct. 1, officials announced Wednesday, saying that selling cigarettes side-by-side with medicine undermines the mission of promoting good health.

The chain will lose about $2 billion in revenues annually from sales of tobacco in its 7,600 stores, but CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes said it just makes sense for a firm now positioning itself as a health care company.

“It was very important to us that, as we’re working with doctors and hospital systems and health plans, that they see us as an extension of their services,” Foulkes said. “It’s virtually impossible to be in the tobacco business when you want to be a health care partner to the health care system.”

President Barack Obama immediately praised CVS. “As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my Administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs – ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” he said in a statement.

The move is also an effort to help curb tobacco-related illness and the 480,000 deaths caused by smoking each year in the U.S. Despite huge reductions over the past 50 years, about 18 percent of Americans — 42 million people — still smoke, health officials say. Smoking costs the nation about $289 billion annually in direct medical costs and lost productivity, according to federal figures.

Health experts and groups like the American Pharmacists Association and the American Medical Association have urged stores that house pharmacies to stop selling tobacco for years. Many small, independent pharmacies and small private chains already ban tobacco, said John Norton, spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association.Target stores stopped selling tobacco products in 1996.

But CVS is the first large retail pharmacy chain to do so.

“This action may not lead many people to stop smoking; smokers will probably simply go elsewhere to buy cigarettes,” CVS medical officer Dr. Troyen Brennan wrote in an editorial published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “But if other retailers follow this lead, tobacco products will become much more difficult to obtain.”

Pharmacy retailer Walgreens released a statment on Wednesday in which it said it has been “evaluating” the place tobacco products hold on its shelves. Representatives for Rite-Aid Corp. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. wouldn’t comment on the pending announcement late Tuesday, calling it “speculation.”

“We will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help to reduce the demand for tobacco products,” Walgreens said in the statement.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Shaun White Bows Out of Slopestyle event, Too Much Risk

Snowboarding star Shaun White announced Wednesday he will not compete in the slopestyle event debuting in the Sochi games, citing the risk of injury associated with the course.

“After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA,” White told TODAY in a statement. “The difficult decision to forego slopestyle is not one I take lightly as I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history, a history I had planned on being a part of. “

White’s announcement comes after he took a fall Tuesday and jammed his left wrist while on a practice run on the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course. It’s the latest in a slew of small injuries the snowboarder has experienced.

“With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on,” White said.

While there is inherent dangers in a sport like slopestyle, in which competitors are judged on a variety of tricks they do on rails, boxes and jumps, White is among several snowboarders who’ve expressed concerns about Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Criticism increased after Torstein Horgmo of Norway, considered a medal contender, fell off of a rail Monday and broke his collarbone — knocking him out of the Games.

Canada’s Sebastian Toutant said the course felt like “jumping out of a building,” and Finland’s Roope Tonteri told reporters that it was “pretty sketchy,” adding, “I just don’t want to get injured. It’s not a really fun course to ride.”

Changes were made to the course after feedback from riders on Monday — the combined height of all three of its jumps were reduced by about six feet. Snowboarders said the changes were an improvement.

“They put some wax on the rails, so it’s not as slick,” Toutant told the Globe and Mail. “And the jumps are still really high, but they made the transition to the jumps way smoother. I still think they could cut the jumps down a little bit, so it makes a smoother transition.”

But White and others still took falls. Tuesday, Finnish snowboarder Marika Enne crashed on the course’s final jump and was taken out on a stretcher after hitting her head.

White is now focusing all of his energy on the men’s halfpipe, and if he succeeds, he’ll make history as the first American man to win three Olympic gold medals in a single event.

Considering his friendship with snowboarder Kevin Pearce and what he watched him go through, we here think he made the right decision.

Bridge to Hawaii

A man was riding his Harley along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, The Lord said,
‘Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant
you one wish.’

The biker pulled over and said, ‘Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can ride
over anytime I want.’

The Lord said, ‘Your request is materialistic, think of the enormous
challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required too reach
the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! It
will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is
hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little
more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind.’

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, ‘Lord, I
wish that I, and all men, could understand our wives; I want to know how
she feels inside, what she’s thinking when she gives me the silent
treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing’s wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy.

The Lord replied, ‘You want two lanes or four on that bridge?’