Dear Mr. Anderson,
We write to urge all of your member retailers to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in their stores. In February of this year, CVS Caremark announced its intention to do just that, exhibiting leadership and dedication to helping people on their path to better health. Together we must send an unmistakable message to all Americans, especially children, that tobacco product use is incompatible with health and wellness.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health. New findings in the latest Surgeon General's report indicate that cigarettes are even more hazardous and addictive than previously known. Each year 480,000 Americans die from smoking-related causes and smoking costs the country over $289 billion in health bills and lost productivity. All levels of government and the private sector have important roles to play in ending deadly addiction to tobacco.
At the federal level, we must ensure that the Food and Drug Administration can take regulatory action to protect the public from the dangers of tobacco -- including banning candy-flavored cigars that appeal to our youth and ending e-cigarette marketing practices that target kids. As President Obama has proposed in his FY 2015 Budget, Congress should raise the taxes on all tobacco products and close loopholes that let tobacco companies avoid federal taxes. We must also remove barriers to quit attempts by making certain that tobacco cessation coverage is available to all Americans through the Affordable Care Act.
Chain community pharmacies are an important player in the health care system and as such can play a critical role in addressing the nation's tobacco epidemic and improving public health. As the delivery of our health system evolves and we continue to focus on better health outcomes and controlling costs, we believe that cigarettes and other tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. By supporting removal of tobacco products from retail pharmacy shelves and increasing access to tobacco cessation products, your members will send an unequivocal message about the dangers of tobacco use.
We look forward to working with you to reduce the toll of tobacco use and improve the health and wellbeing of all Americans.